ffl. mWi I I " : ! <? !
FROM THE LIBRARY OF
REV. LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, D. D
BEQUEATHED BY HIM TO
THE LIBRARY OF
PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
1365 Bulfinch (S. G.) Communion Thoughts,
12mo, cloth, 2s. 6d. Boston, 1850
Pp. 177-204 are occupied by " Part V, Meditations in
OCT 23 l fi37
S. G. BULFINCH,
AUTHOR OF "LAYS OF THE GOSPEL.
" O thou true Eastern Star !
Saviour ! atoning Lord ! where'er we roam,
Draw still our hearts to thee, else, else how vain
Their hope, the fair lost birthright to regain ! "
WM. CROSBY AND H. P. NICHOLS,
111 Washington Street.
EDWARD T. WHITFIELD,
2, ESSEX STREET, STRAND,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, by
Wm. Crosby and H. P. Nichols,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Mas
STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
METCALF AND COMPANY,
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
There are many in our congregations,
who are withheld from participating in the
communion, by causes which a fair con-
sideration of the subject would be likely to
remove. There are others, probably, who
unite in the ordinance from a sense of duty,
but to whom it is not as interesting and
improving as it ought to be, through the
difficulty of directing the current of the
thoughts, and developing the religious feel-
ings. This little volume is an attempt to
meet, in some humble degree, the spiritual
wants of these two classes. It is composed
of materials, in part written for the purpose,
and in part prepared for the pulpit in the
course of the author's ministry. A few
pieces in verse are inserted, none of which
have before been published.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
Value of Outward Forms ....
The Pledge of Christian Duty
Who is on the Lord's Side 1
Institution and Meaning of the Communion .
Historical Importance of the Communion .
For whom is the Communion intended ?
Reasons for attending the Communion
Lord ! I am not worthy ....
What is that to thee 1 Follow thou me
Is it my Duty to partake of the Communion ?
Christ the Image of God
Christ our Brother
Christ our Example .
Christ's Anticipations 98
Christ in Gethsemanc 108
The Arrest, Trial, and Crucifixion . . . 113
Prayer after Self-Examination . . . . 128
Prayer before Communion ..... 130
Prayer before Communion, in Prosperity . . 132
Prayer before Communion, in Adversity . . . 134
Prayer before Communion, when privately admin-
istered in Sickness . .... 136
Passages of Scripture 138
THE CHRISTIAN'S WALK.
Bearing the Cross 145
Instrumental and Active Duties . . . .157
MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
" Behold the Man ! " 179
Jesus before Pilate 182
The Crown of Thorns 184
" My God ! my God ! Why hast thou forsaken me ? " 186
The Mourners 188
Mary and John, before the Resurrection . . .190
Zeal and Love
The Penitent Thief .
Praying in the Name of Christ
The Communion of Saints .
THE LORD'S SUPPER
THE LORD'S SUPPER
VALUE OF OUTWARD FORMS.
There exists, in the present age, an increasing
indifference to outward forms in religion. Men
have so long groaned under the bondage of ob-
servances, that a reaction has taken place. Be-
coming aware of the fact, that mere forms are not
truth and right, men have begun to show a dispo-
sition to reject them altogether ; and numbers,
viewing the Christian ordinances as mere forms,
have so far undervalued them, as entirely to neg-
lect participation in their important advantages.
A well-judging mind, however, will look with
some degree of suspicion upon any thing so tran-
sient and uncertain as the spirit of the age. We
must not suffer ourselves to be hurried along by
the influence of the opinions which happen for the
4 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
time to be prevalent. We have the Scriptures be-
fore us, we have reason within us. Relying on
these, and on the Divine blessing, let us decide
whether we shall do well to discard or to neglect
institutions which are hallowed, not only by the ob-
servance of eighteen centuries, but by the original
appointment of our Saviour, and by the exercise
of a most blessed and useful influence over those
who engage in them aright.
Man is an intellectual, a spiritual being. But
this spiritual being is also corporeal ; this intellect-
ual being can receive impressions from an earthly
source, only through the medium of the outward
senses. Whatever is to be addressed to man, with
the design to affect his conduct and character,
must be adapted to both portions of his compound
nature. It must be suited to influence his thoughts
and feelings, but it cannot reach these except
through the avenues of sight and hearing ; to
these faculties, also, it must be adapted. Relig-
ion, though in itself a spiritual thing, cannot dis-
pense with external means for its communication
and development. Among these external means
various services and ceremonies have from time to
time been employed. One of them was sacrifice,
so generally practised throughout the world in an-
cient times. Another was fasting, an outward ex-
VALUE OF OUTWARD FORMS. 5
pression of sorrow, designed to promote the feel-
ing of self-condemnation from which that sorrow
resulted. We may find another in that solemn
music, which is employed among ourselves, as it
has been for ages, to assist the devotional tenden-
cy of the mind. Nor are these the only external
services. Preaching is external ; however it may
be addressed to the intellect or the heart, it can
reach these only through an outward sense. Pray-
er is external, — all prayer that is uttered in words.
Nay, even that which, without utterance, assumes
the form of words within the mind, partakes of the
outward and of the ceremonial. The Society of
Friends, carefully as they have endeavoured to
avoid formalism, have not been able to dispense
with forms. The assembling together is an out-
ward form ; the signal for separation is given
by a simple but expressive form ; and the solemn
stillness of the assembly while engaged in worship
is valued for precisely the same reason for which
the Catholic values the rich music that accompa-
nies and aids his aspirations.
Must we, then, on the ground that religion ought
to be spiritual, give up at once all that is external,
and, classing together the ancient sacrifice, the
modern liturgy, and public and private prayers, of
whatever kind, resolve to be religious only in the
6 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
secret feelings of the heart ? Thus doing, we
should act inconsistently with our nature, for we
should forget its compound character.- We are
not exclusively spiritual beings. In us, dwelling
in these material tabernacles, the secret feelings
of the heart need prompting and encouragement
by something external to themselves. We have,
then, only one course left, worthy of our adoption.
That course is, to make use of outward means,
not as though religion consisted 'm them, but that
we may become more successful in the attainment
of our ultimate object, the true religious char-
THE PLEDGE OF CHRISTIAN DUTY.
"We have witnessed, of late years, a surprising
movement in the community on a subject of moral
reform. The progress of intemperance, which
had produced the most fearful ravages in our own
and in other lands, has been arrested. Thousands
have been rescued, who, but for this movement,
would have gone down to a dishonored grave.
The means for the accomplishment of this great
good was simple. It was a pledge, a bond of
union. It was the practical adoption of the idea,
that those who had firmness enough for the pur-
pose should come out and profess themselves
friends of temperance, — friends of temperance
in opinion, and resolved to be friends of temper-
ance in practice. What that pledge was to this
branch of moral reform, is the communion of the
Lord's Supper to Christianity. It is the pledge of
belief and of obedience. It is the outward sign by
8 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
which the individual declares that he has taken
his side in the struggle between good and evil in
the world ; that he has chosen his place, humbly,
indeed, but with calm faith and hope, at the feet
of his Redeemer, and in the company of that
If, then, we have seen — and who has not ? —
the effect produced for the amelioration of char-
acter by the adoption of the pledge of temper-
ance, may we not expect results corresponding
in importance from the voluntary assumption of
that which is the pledge of abstinence from all
evil ? He who meets his fellow-Christians at the
table of the Lord has, indeed, contracted no new
obligations ; but he has avowed those which al-
ready existed, and has thus strengthened their in-
fluence over him. That which was innocent for
him previously, is innocent still ; but he now
feels that more is dependent on the correctness
of his conduct than before. He is surrounded
with a cloud of witnesses. The community at
large, his brethren in the fellowship of Christ, his
own aspirations of piety and resolutions of virtue,
all warn him against remissness, and exhort him to
perseverance. Let it not be said that the respon-
sibleness is too heavy to be assumed. We scruple
not, when called by circumstances to any station
THE PLEDGE OF CHRISTIAN DUTY. 9
which we are competent to fill, to pledge ourselves
to the due performance of its duties. We intend
to be faithful, and it occurs not to us that any dan-
ger is incurred by professing that intention. Why,
then, if we intend to be faithful to God, and Christ,
and our own souls, should we scruple to avow that
intention by what our religion has made its appro-
priate pledge ? Why should we anticipate a de-
sertion of duty which is far from our purpose, and
against which the very profession we are called to
make will aid in securing us ?
WHO IS ON THE LORD'S SIDE?
We learn, from the account in the book of Ex-
odus, that while the lawgiver of the Israelites was
on the height of Sinai, holding sublime intercourse
with the Almighty, the people, weary with the long
tariying of their leader, were urged by their im-
patience into crime. In imitation of the idolatry of
their Egyptian masters, they made a calf of gold,
and consecrated it as an emblem of Jehovah.
They evidently had no thought of relinquishing
the service of the Being who had brought them
out of the land of Egypt, yet their worship of him,
by means of this unworthy image, was in direct
violation of the command he had given them, and
was justly regarded as an act of treason and idol-
atry. They proclaimed a feast unto the Lord,
and, assembling around the idol which their hands
had made, they " sat down to cat and to drink, and
rose up to play." In the midst of their presump-
WHO IS ON THE LORDS SIDE
tuous worship and indecorous mirth, Moses ap-
peared, accompanied only by his attendant, Josh-
ua, but in the strength of indomitable courage, of
a holy purpose, and of conscious intercourse with
God. Dashing from his hands, in the excitement
of the moment, the sacred tables of the law which
he bore, he commanded the instant destruction of
the idol. But this was not enough. Far and wide
around, he saw the people scattered in shameful
revelry, exposed without defence to the sudden
incursion of any enemy, and yet evidently dis-
posed to resist his authority. " Who is on the
Lord's side ? " he exclaimed ; " let him come unto
me." Among the twelve tribes, only his own,
that of Levi, gathered at the summons. He sent
them forth, with a severity which the extent of the
defection rendered necessaiy, to punish those who
persevered in their idolatry ; but only by the death
of three thousand of the rebels were the people
reduced to penitence and submission.
" Who is on the Lord's side ? " That dread
summons, which then rang through the disordered
camp of Israel, is yet sounded forth. Who is on
the Lord's side in the great strife between good
and evil, between religion and irreligion, between
virtue and vice ? There is a cause of God in the
world now, as there was in the days of Moses.
12 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
As then the Almighty was, by the ministry of his
prophet, leading his chosen people to the land of
promise, and preparing them, by instruction and
discipline, to receive and transmit to future ages
his holy truth, so now is he, by the Gospel of his
Son, Jesus Christ, leading the human race from the
worse than Egyptian bondage of ignorance and
vice, to the promised land of virtue, wisdom, and
happiness, making ready for himself a peculiar
people, zealous of good works. Wherever there
is a question for moral judgment, wherever there
is a right and wrong, wherever any thing can be
done for the good of a fellow-being, or any thing
avoided by which a fellow-being may be injured,
wherever faith encourages, or conscience warns,
or temptation assails us, there is the cause of God
at issue, there is the demand addressed to us,
" Who is on the Lord's side ? " We are engaged
in a warfare. Happier, indeed, than those of the
tribe of Levi, who gathered at the call of Moses,
the weapons of our warfare are not carnal ; we
wrestle not with flesh and blood ; nor are we
called to maintain the cause of God, as those in
a ruder age, and under a less perfect dispensa-
tion, by deeds of sanguinary justice. No ; our
great ministry is love. Our leader is he who
went about doing good, and our task, to follow
& — 8
WHO IS ON THE LORD'S SIDE ?
his example. With us, as Christians, the service
of God and the service of our race are one and
the same ; and he who is on the side of human
rights and human happiness is on the Lord's
Are you on the Lord's side ? Have you pledged
yourself to his service ? Are you doing all you
can in his cause ? When the Israelites heard
from the lips of Moses that stern demand, they
knew that the duty required of them was not si-
lence, not neutrality, but a prompt acknowledg-
ment of their allegiance to the Almighty, and a
faithful performance of that which he, through
his prophet, might command them. The sum-
mons was in the name, and by the authority, of
their God. It was made by his chosen prophet,
and in his holy cause. It was for them to choose
between obedience and rebellion. How stands
the case with us ? Not Moses, but Christ, calls
us to the sen-ice of the Lord ; and that service is
not one of vengeance, but of love. Yet is the
call less imperative ? Is it less our duty to be
faithful Christians than it was that of the people
in the days of Moses to be faithful Israelites ?
How, then, if they were guilty who refused to
make profession of their faith at the voice of Mo-
ses, shall they be held guiltless who refuse the
14 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
profession of their faith in Christ ? It is by be-
coming members of the Christian Church that we
take our stand, in the sight of God and man, on
the side of Christian truth and Christian virtue, on
the side of man's improvement and of God's
INSTITUTION AND MEANING OF THE
The ordinance of the Lord's Supper derives its
explanation from the circumstances under which
it was instituted. Our Saviour, the night before
he was crucified, was partaking with his disciples
of the Passover, the feast appointed in commem-
oration of the great deliverance of the chosen
people from the Egyptians. He availed himself
of the occasion, — and a more suitable one could
not have been chosen, — to institute another feast,
commemorative of a greater deliverance. He
took a portion of the bread which was before him,
and, breaking it, compared it to his body, which
was the next day to be broken on the cross. He
then shared it among his disciples. He took a
portion of the wine before him, and, pouring it
forth, told his followers that thus his blood was to
be poured forth. He passed the cup also around
16 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
among them, and directed them to continue the
custom in memory of him.
Such seems to be the plain account of the Chris-
tian communion. The bread and the wine are
simply emblems of the Saviour's body and blood ;
and our participation in them is intended to re-
mind us of what our Lord endured for our sake.
Many Christians believe that there is a mysterious
meaning, beyond this, implied in the words of
Jesus, " This is my body," and " This is my
blood." But nothing was more common with
our Saviour than to employ figurative language.
When he said, " I am the vine," " I am the door
of the sheep," we readily understand that he
only meant to compare himself to those objects ;
and it appears to us equally clear, that, when
he said of the wine before him, " This is my
blood," nothing more than a simple comparison
We are told respecting the three thousand who
were converted on the day of Pentecost, soon af-
ter our Saviour's ascension, that " they continued
steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship,
and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." We
are further told, that they continued " daily with
one accord in the temple, and breaking bread
from house to house." Acts ii. 42, 46. It
INSTITUTION AND MEANING. 17
seems from this, that, in the very earliest days of
the Christian Church, whenever a number of the
believers met together, they were accustomed to
partake of bread and wine in memory of their
Master. But if such was the custom, it was soon
subjected to limitations. The first day of the
week, the day hallowed by the resurrection and
ascension of the Saviour, became the regular sea-
son for the religious meetings of his disciples ;
and it appears that on that day they were accus-
tomed to assemble for the especial purpose of
commemorating their Master in this ordinance.
This we may collect from the passage in Acts
xx. 7, — " And upon the first day of the week,
when the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them.'"
We may reasonably suppose that, in the early
churches generally, the religious design of this
ordinance was kept in view, and the observance
of it conducted in a reverential manner. In the
luxurious city of Corinth, however, some abuses
crept in, which drew from the Apostle Paul a se-
Corinth was noted for wealth and dissoluteness ;
and it is evident from the tenor of St. Paul's first
epistle to the church in that place, that the infec-
tion of the manners prevalent around them had
18 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
found its way among the Christian community.
The Corinthian disciples, when they came togeth-
er on the Lord's day, were accustomed, like other
Christians, to bring with them bread and wine for
the rite commemorative of the Saviour. After
the Apostle had left their city, the love of show
and of indulgence prompted them, it appears, to
contribute in this manner far more than was de-
sirable for the emblematic purpose of the rite in
which they were to engage. The simple feast of
love was changed into a banquet. Probably the
corruption was gradual ; and for some time the fes-
tival, though too luxurious for propriety, was shared
equally by all, and with reference in the minds of
all to the circumstances under which it was insti-
tuted. But at length those circumstances seem to
have been forgotten ; the wealthy, who contrib-
uted largely to the banquet, rendered it in some
instances an occasion of indecorous excess, while
the poor were excluded from the table which they
had not the means to assist in furnishing. This
account of the celebration of the communion in a
Christian church in the days of the Apostles may
well surprise us ; but it is too well attested to be
called in question. The abuse, with others which
existed in the same community, attracted, the no-
tice of St. Paul. He wrote to them in the follow-
INSTITUTION AND MEANING.
inn; words : — " Now in this that I declare unto
you, I praise you not, that ye come together, not
for the better, but for the worse " ; — that your
religious meetings are not suited for your improve-
ment, but for your corruption. " When ye come
together therefore into one place, this is not to
eat the Lord's Supper " ; — this is not the proper
way of observing such an ordinance. " For in
eating, every one taketh before other his own sup-
per : and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
What ! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in ?
or despise ye the church of God, and shame them
that have not ? What shall I say to you ? Shall
I praise you in this ? I praise you not." He
then reminds them of the meaning of the ordi-
nance, of which it seems they had so generally
lost sight. He adds : — " For as often as ye eat
this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the
Lord's death till he come. Wherefore, whoso-
ever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the
Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and
blood of the Lord. But let a man examine him-
self, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of
that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unwor-
thily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself,
not discerning the Lord's body." " Wherefore,
my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry
20 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
one for another. And if any man hunger, let him
eat at home ; that ye come not together unto con-
demnation." 1 Cor. xi. 17 - 34.
The language of the Apostle explains itself.
The strong terms in which he speaks of eating
and drinking unworthily, have probably deterred
many from joining in the communion, who should
have felt that it was both their duty and their right.
But on examination, we perceive that St. Paul re-
ferred with disapprobation, not to the conduct of
any who reverently, and with a desire to honor
their Master, comply with his command, but to
an abuse which has not perhaps existed in the
Church from the days of the Corinthians to the
present time ; a total perversion of the ordinance,
in forgetfulness of its meaning, to the purpose of
mere sensual indulgence. This the Apostle rightly
called " not discerning the Lord's body," — not
distinguishing between the emblems of the Lord's
body and the food used in common banquets ; and
this was surely partaking unworthily. That this
crime might be avoided, he bade the Corinthians
to examine themselves, that they might know with
what views and feelings they approached the ta-
ble of the Lord.
This passage, therefore, does not exclude from
Christian communion any one who reverences the
INSTITUTION AND MEANING.
Saviour, and understands that the Supper is admin-
istered in commemoration of him. The Apostle,
however, in the same letter, gives directions to the
Corinthian church to suspend from their fellow-
ship a man who had committed a flagrant offence.
1 Cor. v. The order was obeyed, and the indi-
vidual repented. The second epistle requests the
church to forgive, and again receive the penitent
among them. 2 Cor. ii. 5 - 10.
HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE
The Lord's Supper is an historical memorial of
important transactions, — a perpetual witness to
the truth of the Christian religion. That we may
judge of its value in this respect, we must take a
brief view of the nature of such memorials.
Monuments and commemorations of past events
have been in use among almost every people.
These have mostly taken the form either of some
remarkable structure, as a heap of stones, an al-
tar, or a column ; or of some national observance,
as a feast, or a pilgrimage.
The monumental structure bears witness through
succeeding ages to the occasion on which it was
erected, even if no inscription be engraved upon
it ; because they who witnessed its erection hand
down the memoiy of that event, and the transac-
tions connected with it, to their children, and they
A 2 * 7i
to theirs, and these to still following generations.
True, the traditional account may by time be
blended with error ; but this is most likely to be
the case in monuments of merely local interest.
If we find substantially the same account given
of any monument, the work of human hands, by
the widely scattered descendants of those who wit-
nessed its erection, we have strong reason to be-
lieve that this account is true.
A heap of stones, an altar, or a pillar, may
crumble to decay. But the record engraven on
the customs of a people cannot be destroyed, ex-
cept by the destruction of the nation itself. As
an instance of such a record, we may select our
own observance of our national anniversary. Let
it be supposed that our nation should relapse into
the deepest barbarism, — arts, letters, sciences,
being extinguished, but our observance of the na-
tional anniversary still continuing. In that case,
a thousand years hence, that anniversary would
still furnish the information of our revolutionary
struggle. The people would always necessarily
connect with it the tradition of the Declaration of
Independence, and of the war during which it was
made. If at any time an attempt should be made
to trace the observance of the Fourth of July to
some other origin, the people would answer, igno-
24 the lord's supper.
rant as they might be in other respects, — " The
account you give of our national feast is new to
us ; it cannot, therefore, be true. The account
we give is that which has been handed down alike
in all parts of our country, and has, therefore,
evidently been the same through all ages since its
origin. It therefore must be true."
We return now to the ordinance of the Lord's
Supper. The whole Christian world unite in re-
ceiving that ordinance as an institution of the
Saviour, in which he distinctly foretold his own
approaching death. In thousands of churches,
throughout the world, among Oriental Christians,
Catholics, and Protestants, the bread and wine are
distributed, and accompanied with the words,
" This is my body," " This is my blood," and
" This do in remembrance of me." Ask the
Christian of America, of Russia, or of Spain, to
say by whom this rite was established ; and each
will answer, By Jesus Christ. Nor does he gain
his knowledge of this fact from books. It is from
tradition. We all see the rite administered, or the
preparations made for it in our churches, and re-
ceive a general idea of its purpose and origin be-
fore we are old enough to read intelligently the
accounts in the Gospels. The ordinance has al-
ways been thus administered. This is the account
which we all have received from our fathers, and
they from theirs ; and it must, therefore, be true.
Could we, if we had never before heard of the
Lord's Supper, or seen it administered, be induced
by any assurances to believe that we had known
and participated in such an ordinance, and had
been familiar with it from our childhood ? And
is it more probable that our ancestors, two or ten
generations since, were thus deceived ? — that they
could be made to believe that an altar which was
raised in their very sight was a time-honored me-
morial-altar which they had known from infancy ?
At what time was this mighty fraud effected ?
History answers not. There is no trace in her
records of any period, since the time of Christ,
when an attempt was made to introduce, or to re-
vive, the observance of the Supper. That observ-
ance, therefore, we conclude, has been held con-
tinually in the Christian Church, from the days of
its Divine founder.
But could such an institution have been fraud-
ulently introduced at a period soon after the death
of the Saviour ? Could the Christian community,
ten or twenty years after that event, have been
persuaded that their Master in a solemn manner
instituted this rite, if they had never heard of it
before ? Or, to go back the single step that re-
26 the lord's supper.
mains, could one of the Apostles have persuaded
the rest that their Master had, in the presence of
them all, established such -an ordinance, when
they had no remembrance of such a scene ? If
not, the conclusion, irresistibly follows, that the
communion was instituted by Jesus of Nazareth
the night before his death.
Let us now approach and read the inscription
on this venerable altar ; — in other words, let us
notice the language in which the Saviour estab-
lished this ordinance. " Take, eat ; this is my
body, which is broken for you : this do in remem-
brance of me." " This cup is the new testament
[or covenant] in my blood : this do ye, as oft as
ye drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Cor. xi.
24, 25. These words, in substance, are insepara-
ble from the ordinance. It would be nothing with-
out them. We know, therefore, that these words
were uttered by Jesus before he was put to death.
What does this prove ?
It proves that Jesus, while banqueting with his
disciples, foretold his own violent death, and with
so much certainty of the fulfilment of his proph-
ecy, that he instituted an ordinance in memory of
It proves that his prophecy was fulfilled, and
that he was violently put to death. Otherwise, the
observance of the rite among his followers would
have been but mockery.-
It proves that his death, was voluntary ; for it
shows that he knew his danger, and that, instead
of taking measures to escape, or to resist, he re-
mained where it was Certain to come upon him,
foretold the result, and even rendered it necessary
to his own cause ; for he would have been proved
a false prophet, if his enemies had not succeeded
in their design against his life.
It proves that he acted from benevolent motives,
and those of the most elevated kind ; for no others
could be found to induce a man voluntarily to sub-
mit to a tormenting, and, as it w T as then regarded,
a shameful death.
It proves, then, that he spoke what he believed
to be the truth. Can we conceive of a man,
whose whole life is one continued falsehood, be-
coming a voluntary martyr to the noblest princi-
ples of benevolence ?
It proves, then, that his religion is true ; for that
religion presents claims respecting the truth of
which he could not have been mistaken.
Thus have we reached this great conclusion,
the truth of the Christian religion, plainly dedu-
cible from the existence throughout the world, at
this day, of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
28 the lord's supper.
If all the records of our faith were swept away,
and there remained, besides this rite, only some
traditions respecting the history of our Saviour's
life and death, the argument we have now con-
templated would not be overthrown. It does not
depend on the authenticity of writings. It stands
in its own strength, an immovable pillar, though
comparatively an unnoticed one, among the thou-
sand which support the temple of Gospel truth.
m ■ — ®
FOR WHOM IS THE COMMUNION INTENDED ?
A question of great practical importance pre-
sents itself. For whom is the communion intend-
ed ? Some limitations are given by general con-
sent, and by the nature of the ordinance itself.
No one, probably, in this age, would be disposed
to admit to the Lord's table, children whose early
age prevents them from understanding the mean-
ing of the emblems exhibited, or persons whose
immoral lives would be a scandal to the Church of
Christ. The exclusion of the latter class is, in-
deed, sanctioned by the example of the Corinthian
church, under the direction of St. Paul. 1 Cor.
v.; 2 Cor. ii. 6-10; vii. 11. The ordinance
of baptism, also, being the proper form of intro-
duction to the Church, should be received before
the disciple partakes of the communion. Belief
in Christ, and a determination to live according to
30 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
his law, appear the only other requisites which we
are authorized to demand.
It may be asked, however, if those who desire
to unite in this ordinance should not possess the
evidence within themselves that they have expe-
rienced that change of heart which our Saviour
describes as regeneration ?
If by regeneration is meant the commencement
of a pious life, by the serious direction of the
thoughts towards religion, — in other words, the
recognition of the truth, that we are bound in duty
to serve our God, and the adoption of this truth as
the ground of conduct for the future, — then, cer-
tainly, we say that no one, unless thus regenerate,
should approach the table of the Lord. It would
be mockeiy for one to draw nigh thither, who had
as yet no serious purpose to obey the religion of
Him whom he thus in outward form acknowledges
as his Master. But if the inquiry relates rather to
the inward working of the Holy Spirit than to its
result in the determination of the will, — if it be
questioned whether one can lawfully partake of the
communion, until he is conscious of feelings such
as can only be accounted for by the direct agen-
cy of the spirit of God, — then would we reply,
that the condition thus suggested is unreasonable.
The voice of God's spirit to the heart corner we
FOR WHOM INTENDED ? 31
have reason to believe, in a manner not always
distinguishable from the general current of the
thoughts and feelings. While some are able to
state with considerable accuracy the period of their
conversion, others — and among them many em-
inent for piety in various denominations — are
unable to remember the time when they began to
love and honor their Maker. " Secret things be-
long to God " ; and among such mysteries we may
well class the nature and boundaries of that inter-
course which he maintains, by his Holy Spirit,
with our souls. To us belongs the plain duty of
obeying our Saviour's plain commands.
Nor is it in our power to fix on any particular
degree of moral attainment which shall qualify the
disciple for attendance on the Supper of his Lord.
The most virtuous man, the sincerest Christian,
must not bring to that hallowed ordinance the
feeling that he is without sin ; the true penitent
may humbly approach, though the past offences
which he has now for ever renounced with detes-
tation, should be " as scarlet.' 1 This, indeed, may
justly be required, that none should, by this or-
dinance, make profession of his faith in Christ,
who, either by inveterate and unconquered evil
habits, or by notorious fickleness of disposition, is
likely to bring discredit on the cause of religion.
32 the lord's supper.
Should any one, for instance, in a former irrelig-
ious life, have been guilty of habitual profanity,
let him not feel that regret for such a sin, how-
ever sincere, authorizes him at once to connect
himself with the Church of Christ. Let him rath-
er first prove his strength to overcome the old
evil habit ; and when this has been successfully
tested by time, he may join his fellow-disciples at
the table of the Lord, without incurring the dan-
ger of " giving occasion to the enemy to blas-
For whom, then, is the communion intended ?
It is intended for the humble believer ; for him
who, having examined as far as he had the power,
rests in the conviction that the Gospel of Christ is
true. Yes, though occasionally doubts may pass
across his mind, — though he may be at times in
the spirit of him who said, " Lord, I believe ;
help thou mine unbelief " ; yet if his faith,
though trembling, rests on the sure ground of de-
liberate, impartial examination, — if he feels that
he has good reason for believing, — the commun-
ion is intended for him. It will give strength to his
wavering confidence. It will reassure his doubt-
ing spirit. He will be brought by it into the pres-
ence of Jesus, and hear his words ; and doubt and
fear will vanish as he listens.
k — — s
FOR WHOM INTENDED ? 33
The communion is intended for the young dis-
ciple, — young in Christian experience, whether
he be of many or of few years, — who has en-
tered sufficiently upon the course of piety to be
firm in his own determination to pursue it, but
who feels still that he has much to learn, that he
has difficulties to encounter, and trials to over-
come. Let him not be discouraged. Let him not
think that it would be presumption in him to ap-
proach the table of the Lord. If he has reason
to be persuaded that, by the grace of God, his
union with the visible Church will not be dishon-
ored by his desertion of the path he has chosen,
let him not be dismayed because he knows that
the path has its difficulties. Let him delay as
long as prudence requires, but let him not perma-
nently dispense with the invaluable aid in a Chris-
tian course which a participation in the commun-
ion will impart. That will render religion more a
personal thing to him than it otherwise could be.
It will give him a deeper interest in the individual
character and sufferings of Jesus Christ. It will pre-
sent stated seasons for religious reflection and the
examination of himself. Let him not, by unfound-
ed fears, deprive himself of these advantages.
The communion is intended for the parent. It
will introduce religion into the bosom of his fam-
34 the lord's supper.
ily. It will set before his children the blessed ex-
ample of their father's reverence for religion ; an
example speaking louder than a thousand pre-
cepts. It is intended for the afflicted. It will
bring before the eye of faith the picture of the
Saviour's patient endurance, and of his love,
stronger than death itself. It is intended for the
happy. It will lead their minds up from the en-
joyment of God's gifts to the knowledge and love
of their bestower. It will warm their hearts to-
wards their heavenly friend, their Redeemer, and
cause their feelings of joy to be expanded and pu-
rified into a sympathy with all happiness, and a
fervent desire to diminish all misery, throughout
the world which that Redeemer came to bless.
8 — 3
REASONS FOR ATTENDING THE COMMUNION.
Our Lord Jesus Christ still spreads his tahle,
still invites us to the simple feast by which he is
commemorated. But, as in the parable which he
himself related, of a certain king who made a
great supper, how many of those to whom the in-
vitation comes, begin with one consent to make
excuse ! Some refrain because the rite is in their
apprehension without meaning ; others, because
they are well aware that it means too much for
them to unite in it, — that it implies a promise of
consistent service to God and to Christ, which they
are not yet resolved to render. One declines be-
cause the standard of conduct among professing
Christians is too low ; another, because the stand-
ard of conduct in the law of Christ is too high, —
too high for his own worldly inclinations and
38 the lord's supper.
Let us take a view of the considerations which
should lead the believer in Christ to unite in the
observance of the Lord's Supper.
In the first place, if there were no perceptible
advantage arising either to ourselves or others
from attendance on the ordinance of Christian
communion, and apart also from all considerations
of devotional or affectionate feeling, it is our duty,
because it is commanded by him who speaks to
us in the name of God. " This do," said our
Saviour, " in remembrance of me." The voice
of love in which he spoke, the motive of love
which he presented, should not make those who
reverence him forget that he is authorized to com-
mand them. " This," said the holy voice on the
Mount of Transfiguration, " is my beloved Son ;
hear ye him." Shall we not, then, obey the call
of him who comes to us thus, the commissioned
messenger of his Heavenly Father ? It may be
that the purposes of the ordinance are to us ob-
scure ; but if they were altogether unknown, would
it not be enough that we are commanded to ob-
serve it ? Is a child to know the purpose of every
direction his parent gives, before he determines
whether he will obey it ? Let it be enough for
us, though there were naught else to engage us,
that our Saviour hath required it, — he who was
REASONS FOR ATTENDING IT.
authorized to speak in the name of his Father and
our Father, of his God and our God.
Yet is there a doubt on our minds, whether
those words of his were truly a command, or
whether that command, if given, is applicable to
us ? Let us contemplate the example of our Lord
himself under circumstances which authorized a
similar doubt. John was baptizing in Judea.
There was no provision of God's written law, re-
quiring that all should receive this baptism. The
prophet invited all, and many of the devout re-
ceived the rite at his hands. Among those who
offered themselves to his ministration was one, so
pure, so holy in character, that John himself felt
that the penitential rite could not have to him its
full application. He hesitated. " I have need to
be baptized of thee," said he, " and comest thou
to me ? " But Jesus replied, " Suffer it to be so
now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteous-
ness." He would not plead exemption from a
common duty. He would not make curious ques-
tions with regard to the imperative character of
the calls of religion. Let the meek obedience of
our Saviour be a lesson to us.
In the next place, apart from the consideration
of duty in obeying an express command, we owe
to Christ himself this expression of our reverence
38 the lord's supper.
and love to him. For our sakes, — among millions
of others, indeed, yet truly for our sakes, — did the
Redeemer give in his life the holiest lessons, both
in word and conduct, and finally lay down that
life upon the cross. We believe that he did so.
He asks of us to express that belief in a peculiar,
and very easy and simple manner. We surely
owe it to him to comply with this request. If it
be said that now, removed from this world, our
Saviour can have no knowledge of what we do,
and derive no pleasure from it, it may be an-
swered, in the first place, that this assertion takes
for granted what admits of discussion. We are
not authorized to assert that the blessed Jesus is
not still conversant with the actions and the feel-
ings of those whom he came to save. In the sec-
ond place, our obligation to cherish the memory
of a friend depends not on his knowledge whether
we fulfil it. It would be ungrateful in a child to
forget his parent, — in a nation to lose the mem-
ory of the hero who had wrought its deliverance, —
though the parent and the hero were resting in the
grave. Gratitude, then, to our holy Saviour, calls
upon us to remember him in the way he pointed
out, and thus to acknowledge his name in the
presence of our fellow-men.
This obligation of gratitude appears stronger
K • &
REASONS FOR ATTENDING IT. 39
when we remember that this rite is not an un-
meaning form, but wisely appointed by Christ as
a means of reminding us of the most impressive,
most affecting portion of his history. In the last
peaceful hour he enjoyed before his tortures, he
chose one simple emblem to represent his body
that was to be lacerated and broken, another to
remind us of his blood that was to be shed. If,
then, we have a feeling of gratitude to him, we
shall desire to keep alive and strengthen that feel-
ing ; and, apart from the fact of his having ap-
pointed it, there could be nothing more suitable in
itself for that purpose than a custom which thus
brings before us the remembrance of his voluntary
sufTe rings for the sake of mankind.
Not only is our attendance on the communion
due from us to our Master personally ; it is due to
the religion of which he is the head, — to the holy
cause for which he gave his life. That cause is
the cause of God and of man ; and the ordinance
in question is that by which we express towards it
our allegiance. It is the cause of God ; for Christ
made known to the world the true character of the
Creator, revealing him to us as a God of love and
of holiness. In proportion as the Christian religion
is received and appreciated in the world, will the
Divine Being be truly and worthily known and
40 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
honored. That for which Christ died is the cause
of man, for our best hopes for man's improve-
ment and happiness must be connected with the
spread of the Gospel. It is this which must put
an end to war, by teaching the lesson of love ;
to slavery, by teaching justice ; to intemper-
ance, by teaching self-restraint. It is this, this
alone, faith in God as Christ has revealed him to
us, which can conquer every evil passion of our
race, subdue selfishness, and render mankind a
band of brothers, aiding each other in their path
to the highest good of which their present exist-
ence is capable. And, far more, it is this which
alone can prepare man for heaven, can remove
from before the sight of the mourner the cloud
that darkens the grave, and bid the rays of heav-
enly light shine through. It is this, if any thing,
■which must make man feel that he is an immortal
being, and act in a manner to prepare himself for
the fulness of his immortality. It is, then, the
cause of God and man that claims the profession
of our allegiance. And can it be doubted that the
rite in question is the mode of expressing that
profession ? Baptism, as administered among us,
cannot be so regarded. Attendance at worship is
practised alike by those who are deeply interested
in religion, and those who are not. Those, then,
REASONS FOR ATTENDING IT. 41
who desire to see the Redeemer's cause prosper-
ing in the world, are bound to express their own
allegiance to it, in the way generally recognized
among Christians, and appointed by the Master
himself. Our duty here resembles that which ev-
ery citizen owes to what he deems correct princi-
ples in public affairs ; to give his vote for them.
By professing Christianity we give to it our vote ;
we throw our personal influence into the scale of
Not only do we owe this duty to the world, or
more distinctly to the community in which we re-
side ; we owe it to our own familiar friends, our
own domestic circles. By a profession of relig-
ion, we give a distinct and public testimony to its
worth, adding weight to all other testimony we may
bear in its favor. A young man may advise his
companions to a virtuous and pious course, and it
is well ; but it will probably have still more effect
on them, if, in addition to his advice, he distinctly
pledges himself to the course he recommends. A
father may teach his children to love God, and
honor their Saviour's commands, and it is well ;
but it will be better still, if, together with this, he
shows them by a public profession that he himself
desires to do as he instructs them to do. At the
Passover, that solemn feast on which the commun-
42 the lord's supper.
ion was founded, it was customary among the
Jews, that, when they had assembled around the
board, one of the children should inquire, What
mean ye by this service ? At this prepared
suggestion, one of the older persons told the
tale of that great deliverance to commemorate
which the Passover had been instituted ; and
the young learned reverence and gratitude from
perceiving these sentiments expressed by their
Again, we are called on to participate in this
ordinance, by our regard for the purity and life of
the Christian Church itself. There are many who
complain that the Church is not doing, for the
good of mankind and the glory of God, all that it
ought to do. No doubt the complaint is well
founded. It is in accordance with the testimony
of Scripture, as to the weakness of human pur-
poses, and with the witness borne by the con-
sciences of Christians to their own deficiencies.
But the professed followers of Christ may well re-
ply to those who thus complain, Friends, will you
not aid us more by joining us, and adding your
strength to ours, than by merely reproaching us
with that imperfection which we are ready to ac-
knowledge ? The work which our Master, Christ,
has left us, the work of making his religion trium-
KEASONS FOR ATTENDING IT. 43
phant in the world, of doing good unto all men,
and keeping ourselves pure from evil, is enough
to engage all our best powers, and deserves the
combined effort of all who in their hearts honor
In no age of the world, perhaps, has the great
purpose of the Church of Christ been more clear-
ly, more gloriously, presented before it than it is
now. This is a period of agitation, an age of rev-
olutions. There are mighty elements at work to
effect changes, mighty powers engaged to resist
those changes. Amid the storm, it is only the
voice of Christian love that can say, Peace, be
still ! Let the Church awake to her duty. Let
those of ardent mind, who now denounce her,
bring their ardor to her service, and suffer her
gentleness to blend therewith. Let her calm, ma-
jestic voice be heard, bearing testimony against
every form of evil, and her hand uplift before the
eager combatants the cross, emblem of meekness,
patience, truth, and love, with its inscription as in
the legendary vision of old time, — " In this over-
Attendance on this commemorative ordinance
is also a part of the duty which the Christian
owes to himself. Beset with temptations as we
are, with the world offering to us continual in-
44 the lord's supper.
ducements to neglect the cultivation of our higher
nature, we need every holy influence of which
we can avail ourselves. If we perceive not this
need, that very unconsciousness shows the urgen-
cy of our necessity. But who, that is sincerely
and manfully striving to make his own character
what God approves, does not feel that he needs
all the aid which religion can afford him ? Among
the means of spiritual improvement, the commun-
ion holds a place on two distinct grounds, — as a
mark of Christian profession, and from the emo-
tions which in itself it is suited to excite. As a
mark of Christian profession, it is a pledge to God
and man of the intention of those who assume it
to live worthily of the name by which they are
called ; and the expression of a virtuous resolu-
tion is always regarded as one means of gaining
strength for its fulfilment. It has been recom-
mended by religious writers, that the Christian
should draw up a solemn act of self-dedication to
the service of his God, and, with due deliberation
and prayer, affix to it his signature. In the ob-
servance of the communion, however, such an act
is implied. None can for the first time assume
a place among those who profess the name of
Christ, without feeling that a solemn pledge has
been given, which God has witnessed no less
REASONS FOR ATTENDING IT. 45
than man, and which henceforth it must be the
effort of life to maintain.
And, by the feelings which in itself it excites,
the communion has an influence too valuable for
the disciple to dispense with. At this table we
meet our Saviour. We commune with him. We
have our great model placed, more distinctly than
at other times, before our view. Sympathy is ex-
cited for his sufferings, love for his self-devotion,
emulation of his stainless virtue, and the desire to
share, in some degree, his harmony of spirit with
the Supreme. In the solemn stillness with which
the exercises are varied, the soul turns its glance
inward, and self-examination points out what duty
has yet to accomplish, while the ardent vow to
fulfil the task appointed is rendered more holy by
the prayer that Heaven will give us strength for
Lastly, to the thoughtful Christian, should not
this hallowed act be the natural result of the feel-
ings within ? If we love and reverence Christ,
why fear to profess it ? If we desire to do right,
why not avow, and thus strengthen, that desire ?
It is a part of the experience of a religious charac-
ter, essential to the completeness of the whole ; and
if the character be truly and thoroughly Christian, it
should seem that self-denial, if exerted at all, must
46 the lord's supper.
be used to keep us from the hallowed table, not to
overcome our reluctance to approach it.
Come, then, with us, may the disciple say to
those who hesitate, and we will do you good.
Nay, rather, come with us, and our Master, Christ,
and his holy Gospel and its ordinances, and the
God from whom they came, will bless us all, and
enable us to aid and to bless each other.
LORD ! I AM NOT WORTHY. — Matt. VIII. 8.
No grace is more lovely than true Christian
humility ; no grace, perhaps, more difficult to at-
tain, and to preserve in its due strength, alike
without diminution and without alloy. The very
consciousness that we possess it is dangerous to its
existence. Yet it is indispensable. Scarce any
quality is sooner missed by the observant eye of
the world ; for pride and vanity are faults that lie
on the surface, obvious to the sight of all ; and
though in their smaller degrees they may be
classed among venial sins, yet, when they have
attained their full power, they are equally despi-
cable in the sight of men, and offensive in that of
True humility results from a right appreciation
of our own relation to the Supreme Being and to
our fellow-creatures. We are to feel, as we look
upward, that we are children of a day in the pres-
H — — — —
48 the lord's supper.
ence of the Eternal, — imperfect and sinful in
the presence of the All-Pure. We are to feel,
as we look round on our fellow-men, that we are
of them, not above them ; that our natures are
like theirs, our powers of mind and body similar,
our destiny for eternity the same. Over each of
our brethren the Universal Father watches, as
over us. To each he has promised the same
heaven as to us, and on the same conditions.
We know that there is nothing which we possess,
either internal or external, which we have not re-
ceived from the Divine Giver. We are to feel,
therefore, that there is nothing of which we can
glory, as if it were in truth our own. But per-
haps the feeling of humility results not so much
from any other view, as from that in which we
contemplate ourselves as sinful, recall to memory
our many transgressions of the Divine law, and
bring our own imperfection into immediate con-
trast with the high standard of duty as set forth in
word and deed by our Saviour. Then, indeed,
does it appear to us that boasting is excluded ;
then, indeed, as we listen to the Saviour's invita-
tions of love, the Father's promises of mercy, are
we ready to exclaim, Lord ! I am not worthy.
We are not worthy that the Saviour should
come to us ; — the world, when he came, was not
LORD ! I AM NOT WORTHY.
worthy that he should abide in a fleshly taberna-
cle and mingle among its blinded and defiled spir-
its. Nor are we, at this day, worthy of the grace
that is granted to us, in the Saviour's coming to us
through his word and through his ordinances. If
worthiness be taken in its strict, primitive sense,
these mercies of God have been, and are yet, con-
ferred on the undeserving ; but in that sense which
mercy recognizes, we are worthy, — we are wor-
thy of assistance, for we need assistance. Our
plea is not our merit, but our necessity.
Humility is true and proper, when, proceeding
from thoughts like these, it suggests to us the in-
adequacy of our efforts, if unassisted by the grace
of God. It should teach us to depend, not on our-
selves alone, but on his aid, freely and kindly
given to our sincere efforts. True humility will
be far from rendering us hopeless or discouraged.
It points us to the never-failing Source of strength.
It leads us to the Rock that is higher than we ;
and, while it deprives our works of obedience of
the pretence to perfection in themselves, it gives
to them new dignity and value, as those offerings
of faith and love on which the Eternal King has
deigned to smile.
But there is a false as well as a true humility.
This heavenly grace is not, more than any other,
50 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
exempted from the danger attending human vir-
tue, in this world of trial, — the danger of running
into extremes, and changing its real character for
one far less acceptable to God and profitable to
Perhaps the plea of mistaken humility is never
so frequently brought forward, as for the neglect
of attendance upon the table of the Lord. It is,
in fact, the general plea. " I am not worthy to
become a member of the Christian Church," is
the language, and, no doubt, the sincere language,
of thousands. " I am conscious of so many frail-
ties, of being so far from the character which
God requires, that I feel that it would be presump-
tion in me to class myself among the professed
disciples of the Redeemer." That there are
those by whom this language might be used with
propriety, we are far from denying. We have no
wish to see persons who are really unworthy, and
whose conduct would do dishonor to the Christian
name, pressing to the table of the Lord. But the
objection is less frequently urged by such than by
a different class, — the class of those who are try-
ing to do right, — who respect religion, and whose
lives are influenced by its teachings, — the very
class who most need the hallowed influence of the
communion, to give strength to their faith and
LORD ! I AM NOT WORTHY. 51
vigor to their purposes, and for the consistency of
whose profession none but themselves would en-
tertain any apprehension.
Christian friend, distrust in yourself that humil-
ity which would keep you from the discharge of
plain and positive duty. If, indeed, your charac-
ter has been, and continues to be, such as will ren-
der your assumption of a Christian profession dis-
graceful to the Church, and thereby injurious to
others, you have previous duties to discharge, —
those of repentance and reformation. If you be
engaged in those great tasks, continue them, until
you feel a reasonable assurance that your conduct
will give no occasion to the adversaries of religion
to speak reproachfully, but wait not for an unat-
tainable perfection before you discharge the duty
to which your Saviour has called you. And in
reference both to this subject and to every other,
let true humility ever be the companion of your
way. Conscious of your own weakness, look
continually to God for strength to aid your efforts ;
conscious of your own sins, strive ever to conquer
them, and to advance, day by day, nearer to the
heavenly mark, the prize of Christian excellence.
Humility should lead you, not to despond, but to
be watchful in effort, and constant in prayer. If
temptation is conquered, ascribe the glory to the
Lord, whose aid was with you. If temptation
is, in an evil hour, allowed to conquer, remem-
ber, while you mourn over your fall, that the
mercies of the Lord are from everlasting to
everlasting, that true repentance is always ac-
ceptable in his sight, and that for the strength
which you have lost through sin, it becomes you
to walk with the more circumspection, and to look
to him with more of beseeching earnestness. But
despond not. Shrink not from your duties. Abuse
not the name of humility, to make it an excuse for
neglect. If your heart breathes forth, " Lord, I
am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my
roof," strive to become more deserving, and mean-
time let your petition be, " Lord, come in thine
own worthiness, and not in mine."
WHAT IS THAT TO THEE? FOLLOW THOU
ME.— Joux XXI. 22.
Human beings arc, by the constitution of their
natures, liable to be influenced by each other.
Sometimes the principle of imitation, sometimes
the opposite propensity to be unlike others, con-
trols our course of conduct. Within certain
bounds, this is right. The propensity to imitation,
especially, is of high value in the early, the form-
ing period of our lives. But it must be remem-
bered, still, that there is a relation between every
human being and his Maker, in which no third
person bears a part ; — that the man is answer-
able for himself, and is guilty or not guilty,' ac-
cording as he acts in conformity to his own con-
science or against it. The wrong that we do is
not less truly evil, because we may have followed
a multitude to do it. The good that we have
omitted to do was not less truly our duty, because
54 the lord's supper.
others neglected to do it, or discharged it in an
imperfect or erroneous manner. Independence
in our actions is often no less required of us by-
religion, than it is by true manliness of character.
Without it, we forfeit consistency and self-ap-
proval. The things that we would, we do not,
and those that we would not, those we do. The
mind, meantime, is neither satisfied with itself,
nor certain what course it should pursue. It is
inquiring what others do, instead of asking of the
law of God what is its own duty. And, as the
conduct of others is infinitely various, it is embar-
rassed and divided among conflicting courses,
when a plain, straightforward path lies open be-
fore it, in which it would go on, without doubt or
fear, if but once fully decided to follow Christ
Let us, if we feel disposed to hesitate from re-
gard to the conduct or the opinion of others,
where our own duty is clear, remember the words
of Jesus to his Apostle, " What is that to thee ?
Follow thou me." Let us not be withheld by
fear, or by any other cause, connected with the
imperfect and erring beings around us, from do-
ing what we feel to be right. An independent
course is by no means inconsistent with due re-
spect to the judgment of others. We may be ig-
g _ H
FOLLOW THOU ME. 55
norant, and others may be wise, we may be sin-
ful, and they may be eminently virtuous, yet, in
regard to our own duty, we must walk by our
own light, not by theirs. We may seek from
them advice or information, we may sit in all hu-
mility at their feet, to learn their wisdom and be-
hold their virtues, but when an occasion arises
for us to act, if they or the whole world point to
one course, and conscience and God's word to
the opposite, conscience and God's word must be
What are the most common excuses made for
the neglect of the communion ? Few question
the fact that the Saviour of mankind left to his
disciples an ordinance which gratitude and duty
alike require them to observe. Yet thousands
who believe in the truth of Christ's religion, and
who are not without a sense of gratitude to the
God and the Saviour from whom it came, turn
away from the fulfilment of this obligation. What
are the reasons which they assign ? Some, un-
doubtedly, can plead motives of a conscientious
character, which, whether altogether derived from
correct views or not, are yet entitled to respect.
Let us examine some of the reasons assigned by
" I," replies one, " would willingly obey the last
56 the lord's supper.
command of the Saviour, were it not that I should
stand nearly alone in so doing, among the circle
with which I am connected. My conduct, were
I to join the Church, would have the aspect of sin-
gularity, perhaps of presumption. Why others,
older and wiser than myself, hold back, I cannot
understand ; but while they do, it is not for me to
press forward." To the person urging such an
objection as this, we may reply, The service you
are called on to render is an individual one, and
for which you are individually responsible. Those
whose example you follow in abstaining are act-
ing for themselves, and are responsible to that
God who alone sees their hearts. But to you, in-
dependent of them, the command of the Saviour
comes, " Follow thou me " ; and there rests on
you, independently of others, the responsibleness
of determining whether you will obey it. If others
do, as it appears to you, wrong, you may grieve
for their error, though it were better still to sus-
pend, if possible, your judgment, leaving it to
Him who is their judge as well as yours ; but as
concerns the bearing of their conduct on yours,
the word of the Saviour is, " What is that to
thee ? Follow thou me."
" For me," replies another, and the class is
large, " I would join the Church of Christ, if I
FOLLOW THOU ME. 57
saw those who are its members conducting them-
selves worthily of their profession. But I cannot
perceive that they are any more shining examples
of virtue than other men. In fact, I have seen
such violations of the law of Christ, so much of
cant, formality, and hypocrisy, so much worldli-
ness of spirit with a pretence of religion, in those
who are called church-members, that I have no
idea of becoming one of their number." Such
language is not unfrequently used ; it is easy to
reply to it, that no one supposes that the fact of a
man's joining the Church exempts him from the
temptations common to human nature, and that
the standard of character in the Church, though
not as high as we could wish, is much higher
than that in the community at large. But the re-
ply already given, in the words of Christ, and made
to the objector in his name, is amply sufficient to
meet the case. " What is that to thee ? Follow
thou me." Let all the real deficiencies of the
Church and church-members be admitted, they af-
fect neither the command of the Lord, nor the
duty of those who believe in him. If others have
sinned, the evil they have done will be yet great-
er, if it have the effect of causing thee to neglect
thy duty. If the cross of Christ has been borne
by so many unfaithfully, still greater is the reason
58 the lord's supper.
for increasing the scanty number of its faithful
supporters. Assume it, then, thyself, neither de-
spondingly nor proudly, — neither feeling that it
will be dishonored in thy hands, nor claiming
that thou canst bear it better than others have
done ; but calmly determined to do thine own du-
ty to the best of thine ability, beseeching Divine
assistance, and leaving the judgment of thyself
and of others with God, to whom it belongs. If
others have sinned, their sins are upon themselves ;
if they have done well, they will not fail of their
reward ; but what is that to thee, to affect thy
conduct ? Follow thou thy Saviour.
IS IT MY DUTY TO PARTAKE OF THE
I am called on to determine whether I will offer
myself for reception to the Church. Let me view
the important question in the light of duty, giv-
ing to eveiy consideration, on either side, its due
weight, but nothing more. I trust that I sincerely
desire to do right. I would lay aside all unworthy
thoughts, whether of ostentation in making a pro-
fession, or of timidity in declining it. It is a
question of duty, and, viewing it in that solemn
character, all such feelings as these must be re-
linquished. Ostentation ! How can I think of
such a thing in the presence of my God ? Ti-
midity ! If, indeed, God calls me, shall I fear the
face of man ?
But does God indeed call me to an act of this
kind ? What is there in my circumstances that
renders it more proper for me than for many oth-
60 THE LORD'S SUPPER.
ers, who yet, I see, retire with me when the com-
munion-table is spread ? Some of them are my
superiors in age and in character. While they
withdraw, can I with propriety remain ? Yet let
me reflect. I know not their motives in withhold-
ing their attendance. I know not how far they
are justified. I cannot judge them ; God is their
only judge ; but is he not also mine ? If others
must decide for themselves in this matter what is
right, must not I also for myself? Let me act,
then, not according to what others deem their du-
ty, but by what appears to me to be my own.
And if I find that I have been influenced by
their example, let me reflect if others may not be
by mine. Are none now prevented from uniting
with the Church by seeing that I do not ? At
least, are none discouraged by seeing that crowd
retire, of which I form one ? Might not some be
induced to think of their duty in this respect, if
they knew that I had joined the Church ? Cannot
I think of some among my friends upon whom
such an act on my part would have a useful in-
By uniting with the Church, I should give my
testimony in behalf of religion. Would not that
testimony have its weight in commending religion
to those I love ?
IS IT MY DUTY TO PARTAKE OF IT ? 61
But am I, indeed, fit to join the Church. My
character is imperfect. I am often conscious of
not exercising due self-restraint. Let me reflect
upon my faults. What are my most easily beset-
ting sins ?
As memory presents them to me, I shrink, in-
deed, from coming, thus weak and imperfect, to
join the company of Christ's professed disciples.
Yet let me reflect. Is it not as sinners that we
must approach, if we would find acceptance ?
Yes, but as repentant sinners. Am I, then, truly
Is there a cherished sin, that I am unwilling to
forsake ? If so, let me not venture to make a
profession, which under such circumstances would
be hypocritical. But so it must not be. Shall I
prefer sin to holiness, destruction to salvation ?
I hope, I trust, that I am truly penitent. But I
am conscious of weakness. As I have fallen into
sin, so I may fall again ; and then, if I am a
member of the Church, my offence will be more
disgraceful to myself, and more injurious, than at
But are not all human beings liable to fall ?
Shall none, then, join the Church, lest they should
disgrace their profession ?
The question resolves itself to this. Is there a
62 the lord's supper.
reasonable probability that my future course will
be such as shall not inflict dishonor on the cause
of Christ ?
I feel my own weakness, but is not my strength
on high ? God will sustain me, if I pray to him.
Have I formed the habit of secret prayer ? Is
prayer with me an outward form merely, or is
my heart there ? Am I firm in my resolution to
continue steadfast in prayer and effort ?
Lord ! thou knowest my weakness, be thou my
Perhaps I can judge something of the perma-
nence of my good resolutions by their past his-
tory. Are religious thoughts of recent date
with me, excited by some sudden cause, or have
they been for a length of time gradually devel-
oped ? In the latter case, I may have more
confidence that they will be permanent, than in
Yet, in the former case, I must not quench the
spirit. If it should appear, on full reflection, that
I am not yet fitted to join the Church, let me at
least resolve on such a course of life as shall give
maturity to my present religious impressions.
Daily prayer, reading of the Scriptures, self-ex-
amination from time to time, — say at some slated
hour of every Sabbath, — let me resolve on these,
IS IT MY DUTY TO PARTAKE OF IT ? 63
as means for deepening and strengthening my re-
And should not the same course be pursued if
I unite with the Church ? Assuredly. Thus much,
then, is at least attained. Lord ! grant thy bless-
ing, that I may keep the resolution.
I talk of joining the Church. But are not all
believers really members of the Church of Christ ?
What right have the few who commune to arro-
gate that title to themselves alone ?
Nay, but is it not rather true that others volun-
tarily relinquish that title, than that they assume
it ? If all are members of the Church, then should
all partake of the Church's ordinances. And with
us, all are at liberty to do this who believe in
Christ, and are not excluded on account of im-
moral conduct. The distinction, then, between
Church and congregation, so far as there is any
thing wrong in it, is chargeable, not on those who
commune, but on those who decline communing.
If all did their dutv, Church and congregation
would be the same.
But are my feelings such, with regard to the
communion, that I can with profit partake of it ?
Can it be edifying to me ?
Can it be otherwise to contemplate my Saviour
at the period of his course when his holy charac-
64 the lord's supper.
ter was most touchingly displayed ? Bread and
wine are, indeed, but outward elements ; but they
are emblems of the Lord's body and blood. Am
I so sensual that I cannot, in receiving them, think
of their emblematic meaning ?
I have said that I would at stated seasons exam-
ine myself. Will not the communion present the
most suitable occasion for this duty ? Let it be
the task of every Lord's day ; but sometimes I
should comprehend in my survey a longer period
of time than from one Sabbath to another ; and
when can this be more suitably done than at the
Will it not aid me to keep my good resolutions,
that I have thus professed them before my fellow-
men and before my God ?
Christ, my Saviour, requests this mark of grat-
itude from me. Can I refuse it ?
Christ, my Master, commands this service.
Shall I disobey ?
I feel the force of considerations such as these.
My only doubt must be, whether my conduct will
be answerable to the profession I make. And this
doubt, I know, ought not entirely to withhold me.
It may require me to delay the act, until I have
by experience tested my ability to walk according
to the law of God. Yet let me remember that delay
IS IT MY DUTY TO PARTAKE OF IT ? 65
is dangerous. If I postpone at all this duty, let it
be for a designated time ; and let that time be
given, as far as possible, to the careful use of the
various means of Christian advancement. Have
I not cause to fear even such delay, lest I lose
something of my present interest ? Aid me, O
God, by the spirit of wisdom, that I may decide
CnEIST THE IMAGE OF GOD.
It is a distinguishing beautv of the Christian re-
ligion, that, while it teaches the purely spiritual
character of our Creator, it presents to us, in Je-
sus, a copy of his moral perfections, suited to our
comprehension, and worthy of our highest love
and reverence. But for this, the Divine Being, in
all the majesty of his infinite attributes, might
have appeared too exalted even for our worship.
Our thoughts, accustomed to the visible, corporeal
objects around us, cannot long endure the contem-
plation of the invisible, incorporeal, infinite Mind.
Hence, many nations have fallen into idolatry ;
either representing their Maker by some visible
image, or worshipping instead some natural ob-
ject, as the sun, the moon, or the stars. In the
70 OUR SAVIOUR.
Hebrew nation, how constantly were prophecies,
miracles, chastisements, necessary to counteract a
similar tendency ! Yet they were provided with
outward objects of reverence, in their temple and
their ceremonial law. At length their tendency
to idolatry was subdued ; and in the heathen world,
also, intellectual refinement had prepared the way
for a spiritual religion. That religion was be-
stowed upon the world. But, spiritual as it is, it
was beneficently adapted to human infirmity.
While the Almighty remains, and ever must re-
main, exalted above our highest comprehension,
he has graciously furnished us with an image of
himself, in the character of Jesus ; so that when
our attention is overpowered in the contemplation
of the Eternal Father, we may yet gaze, un-
wearied, on the " brightness of his glory," as it
beams in milder lustre in the person of his holy
With this thought is to be connected another.
Though the character of the Eternal be, in its ful-
ness, far too high for our conceptions, yet the re-
semblance of that character exists, to some de-
gree, in ourselves. We are made in the image
of God ; and, debased as our natures have been
by our own sins, that image still exists in us. We
could never understand any thing of the justice or
THE IMAGE OF GOP. 71
the benevolence of God, did not justice and benev-
olence exist in ourselves. We conceive of every
Divine attribute only by the possession of its like-
ness. The peculiarity, then, in the character
of Jesus, which makes him to us a representative
of the Father, is, that he was a perfect man, —
that in him, this image, which to some degree ex-
ists in each of us, was found in perfection. In
contemplating him, then, we are led to a fuller
knowledge of the Divine character, while at the
same time we view our own nature in that perfec-
tion which may be to ourselves the crown of eter-
nal happiness in another world. He stood on
earth, in human nature, indeed, but in human na-
ture pure from sin, — in that human nature which
reflects the glories of the Divine.
In confirmation of this view, let us contemplate
his character more nearly, as delineated by the
But to what point shall we turn ? Even those
who have denied his claim to a supernatural com-
mission, acknowledge the loveliness, the glory, of
that heavenly character ; yet when we approach
it, we stand surprised as well as awed. Its har-
mony prevents us, for a time, from understanding
it. The man Christ Jesus is not like other men.
The moment we think of others, with whose his-
tory we are familiar, their leading traits recur to
our remembrance. With the name of Peter is
connected inseparably the idea of impetuous zeal ;
the character of Paul is ever that of one formed
to command ; that of John exhibits one formed to
love. But when we look to Jesus, what trait in
him shall we select as shining above all the rest ?
None ! and this constitutes one of those moral
miracles which so strongly assist the evidence to
the truth of Christianity. The character of Jesus
is not one which any person would have invented.
It would have borne the impress of its fabrica-
tor. As it is, it bears the impress of heaven, and
of heaven alone. Never man spake like that
man ; never man lived like him ; never man died
like him. Look at his character ; — consider it
well ; then point out its peculiar grace. Is it the
love of God and submission to him, revealed in
the agony of the garden, and in his daily converse
with the Supreme ? But is his love to those
around him less beautiful, manifested as it is in his
long parting conversation, — manifested through-
out his life, and at his death ? And will you se-
lect these traits of character as bearing peculiarly
the impress of superiority ? Look yet again.
The eye that wept over the tomb of Lazarus could
awe, with a look that struck them backward to the
THE IMAGE OF GOD. 73
earth, the soldiers who came to take him. The
tongue that spoke such words of boundless love to
his followers, struck terror to the consciences of
the guilty Pharisees. He who humbled himself
to wash the feet of his disciples, appeared equally
in the majesty of heavenly perfection, whether he
rode into Jerusalem amid the hosannas of the
people, or stood a prisoner in the hall of the chief
priest or of Pilate. The same being who prayed
that the cup of sorrow might be taken from him,
yet in submission to the will of Him who gave it,
the same being it was who made those replies of
patient dignity, — "If I have spoken evil, bear
witness of the evil ; but if well, why smitest thou
me ? " " Thou couldst have no power at all
against me, except it were given thee from
above." " Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not
for me, but weep for yourselves and for your
children." His character is a union of qualities
seldom found together, never but in him found to-
gether in perfection. From this we may derive
a most important lesson, that, in aiming at the pu-
rification and exaltation of our own characters, we
should not make it our object to excel in one
point or in a few points merely, but in all ; and
that we should never rest till the victoiy be gained,
till we come to the stature of perfect men in Christ
74 OUR SAVIOUR.
Jesus, deficient in no part, but formed in beautiful
proportion to the resemblance of our glorious
We thus contemplate in Jesus the image of Di-
vine excellence, united, identified, with the perfec-
tion of human virtue. What a field for meditation
is open before us here ! In Jesus the Divine and hu-
man characters meet ; through Jesus we learn that
we are truly created in the image of God, for we see
that image in him while we recognize him as one
of our brethren. How important is the truth thus
impressed ! We are sharers in the Divine char-
acter ; we are like God ; — we may become more
like him. Already are we like him in all that is
worthiest, most elevated, in our principles and
conduct ; and that the resemblance may be in-
creased, he has stamped this more perfect image
of himself on a human being, and presents that
being to us as the object of our love, and rever-
ence, and imitation.
At length, we trust, a time will come when we
shall be like our Saviour, " for we shall see him
as he is." Then, in the nearer contemplation of
Divine perfections, shall we attain that freedom
from sin, that high degree of holiness, which con-
stituted Jesus, and will constitute us, " the image
of the Invisible God." Glorious, transcendent
THE IMAGE OF GOD. 75
destiny ! If men could but realize it, — if they
had faith in what the Gospel teaches, — if they
but believed and felt the sacred truth, that they
are children of God, and are to become like their
Father, and to live for ever with him, — how ea-
gerly would they turn from the prizes of ambi-
tion, however bright, — from the pursuit of rich-
es, however engrossing, — from sensual pleasure,
however fascinating, — and think no labor, no pri-
vation, no endurance, too severe, so that their im-
mortal hopes might be secured !
CHRIST OUR BROTHER.
Whatever views may be entertained by any
with respect to the exalted character and office
of our holy Master, all admit him to have been,
in the most obvious sense, a brother of the great
family of man. Like us he lay, a feeble infant,
in his mother's arms ; like us, he acquired, grad-
ually, as month succeeded month, and year fol-
lowed year, a knowledge of the objects around
him ; like ours, his young thoughts were strength-
ened by degrees, till able to take in the great idea
of God. Like ours, too, his moral strength grew
with his bodily and intellectual. As he " in-
creased in wisdom and stature," so also " in fa-
vor with God and man." It was gradually that
the innocence of childhood ripened into the virtue
of perfected humanity. So, too, in after life, like
us he became acquainted with the various forms
of suffering by actual experience. He shared the
OUR BROTHER. 77
pleasures and the pains of human nature. He
was " found in fashion as a man, 11 and was
" made perfect through sufferings. 11 " In all
things it behooved him to be made like unto his
And as we regard his character as the standard
of perfect humanity, we are not surprised to find
that the feelings, which are often rudely checked
and kept from their full development, were in him
more strongly exhibited than they are in the ma-
jority of mankind. The susceptibility to pain,
which made the anticipations in Gethsemane so
agonizing to him, has been eagerly noticed by
those who would rejoice to find something to cen-
sure in his holy character ; — not perceiving that,
the more agonizing was his idea of the tortures
he was to undergo, the greater was the triumph
of courage, love, and holiness in enduring them.
The keenness with which every gentler emotion
was felt by him has been often commented on,
exhibited, as it was, in his last affectionate meet-
ing with his disciples before his death, his friend-
ship for the Apostle John, for Lazarus and his sis-
ters, and his care, even in death, for the comfort
and future home of his bereaved mother.
Nor is his participation in human nature and
human feelings alone the ground on which we
78 OUR SAVIOUR.
speak of the brotherhood of Christ with man.
He exhibited to mankind a brother's love. Ev-
er before his mind, probably from the earliest
thoughtful hours of youth, was the great object of
benefiting the human race, as that object has been
before the minds of the wise and the holy, who
have left names honored on the records of philan-
thropic exertion. Thus does the great English
poet describe him, as communing with himself in
" When I was yet a child, no childish play-
To me was pleasing ; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do
What might be public good : myself I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth."
" Victorious deeds
Flamed in my heart, heroic acts ; one while
To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke,
Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the earth,
Brute violence and proud tyrannic power,
Till truth were freed and equity restored ;
Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first
By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
And make persuasion do the work of fear."
Paradise Regained, Book I.
We can well believe that the genius of Milton,
itself so conversant with all that is high and noble,
depicted rightly, in this passage, the early medita-
tions of the Son of God, the Brother, the Friend,
the Saviour of mankind. And conformable to
such high anticipations, only more elevated still,
as the maturity of a holy life exceeds the loftiest
conception of it that youth can form, was the
course which he actually pursued. Well is it
said of him, that he " went about doing good."
His supernatural powers were constantly exerted to
relieve pain, and increase happiness ; and not these
alone. He was, wherever he went, the consoler
of the afflicted, the rescuer of the fallen, the re-
buker, and thus in truth the friend, of those who
sinned through hypocrisy and pride. Yes, to the
Pharisee, as to the publican, Jesus came as a
friend ; — if his language was stern, it was a sal-
utary sternness, and the difference of his recep-
tion by the two classes was not from partiality in
him, but from unworthiness on the part of those
who rejected him. But his immediate intercourse
with those around him, whether in healing their
outward infirmities, or ministering to their spirit-
ual wants, constituted but a small part of the ben-
efits he conferred upon mankind. Only by a
portion of the inhabitants of the small country of
Judea was his voice directly heard ; only to a
smaller number among them were his blessings of
outward healing wrought ; but to the millions of
80 OUR SAVIOUR.
the civilized world, for age after age, has he ad-
ministered comfort in sorrow, strength for duty,
salvation from sin and from its consequent mis-
ery. Christ came with a brother's love, not to
those around him only, not to Israel alone, but to
the human race.
This reflection may enable us to enter in some
degree into the grandeur of o"ur Saviour's thoughts.
He is standing by the couch of one whom he has
raised from death, the daughter of the ruler, Jai-
rus. The Apostles look on in awe at the display
of Divine power and benignity ; the parents of
the child are prostrate at his feet in thankfulness,
then turn to clasp their recovered treasure to their
breasts. Gratitude, love, and reverence fill the
hearts of all, and for what blessing ? That he
has rescued one child from the early grave to
which she was to be consigned in her innocence,
that he has recalled her to life, with its many tri-
als, its certain temptations, its uncertain results to
human happiness and virtue. Amid the group
of the thankful ones stands the Saviour, receiv-
ing benignantly their words of gratitude ; but are
his thoughts alone with them ? No ; his mental
sight surveys the thousands upon thousands then
unborn, who should, through that and other signs
of his Divine mission, be brought to faith in him,
and through faith to blessedness here and hereaf-
ter. As he hath raised this child, so, he feels,
shall his followers — a company whom no man
can number — be raised at the last day. As he
looks on the mother, weeping with joy at the res-
toration of the child for whom she had been weep-
ing more bitter tears, does there not come to him
the thought, how many a mother, through ages
yet to come, should find consolation in similar dis-
tress, by the knowledge which he had brought of
the character of God and of the truth of a res-
There is something peculiarly beautiful in the
guidance which a virtuous elder brother exercises
for the younger members of the family ; and it
deserves to be compared with the relation of our
Saviour to his disciples. There is in such a one
a blending of authority and gentleness ; a power,
whose origin is in love and wisdom ; a feeling
of sympathy, as well as of superiority. How tru-
ly is this displayed in the intercourse between our
Lord and his disciples ! He was their compan-
ion ; the journey which proved too wearisome for
his bodily powers had tasked theirs also ; at the
meal of which they partook, he broke the bread
and gave thanks ; some of them were with him
in his hour of glory on the Mount of Transfigura-
82 OUR SAVIOUR.
tion, and in his hour of sorrow in Gethsemane.
But with this near companionship there was a
reverence deep in proportion. More than once it
withheld them from asking him the meaning of
words which had seemed mysterious. They
called him Master and Lord, and he could say to
them, with the calm dignity of conscious worth,
" Ye say well, for so I am." Thus were the two
constituents of the relation we have spoken of, as
existing between an older brother and the younger
members of the family, of whom he is the guide,
united in the intercourse of the disciples with
Christ, — intimate companionship and affection,
with respectful deference. And thus, too, we, as
we meditate on Christ, draw near to him in spirit,
and perceive those qualities in his sacred character
that win an affection, a tender regard, resembling
that which binds us to our best-beloved earthly
brethren, while, at the same time, deep, heartfelt
reverence leads us to look up to him, as the holi-
est of the sons of God, — that God who is the
Father of us all.
Probably there is no scene in which Jesus
showed himself the brother of mankind more tru-
ly, or in a more beautiful manner, than when he
returned to Judea, to the midst of his enemies,
and sought out the place where the body of Laz-
arus had been laid. His personal affection to
the friend whom he had lost, and to the sis-
ters, brought out in a clear light the tenderness of
his nature. He showed himself there truly and
in the highest sense a man, sympathizing with
human griefs, comforting human sorrows ; while
even in his tears there is nothing extravagant,
nothing inconsistent with the dignity of his sub-
lime office. The consummation of that scene,
the raising of Lazarus from the dead, filled with
awe and gratitude the minds of the spectators ;
but to us, who see that great transaction through
the mists of time, the exhibition of true human
feeling, blended with heavenly faith, in his pre-
ceding language and deportment, is more impres-
sive than when we are told that he who was dead
came forth from the tomb.
Christ, then, is our brother. " He that sancti-
neth and they who are sanctified are all of one "
Father ; " for which cause he is not ashamed
to call them brethren.'" This name, too, he
gave to those who should obey his word, on
that occasion when his relatives sought to hold
converse with him, in order, probably, to with-
draw him from what they thought his too
great engrossment with the duties of his office.
" Who, 11 said he, " is my mother, and who are
84 OUR SAVIOUR.
my brethren ? And he looked round about upon
his disciples and said, Behold my mother and my
brethren ; for whosoever shall do the will of God
and keep it, the same is my brother, and sister,
Where there is brotherhood, there is similarity
of nature and of powers ; the difference is in
degree, not in kind. Where, then, our brother
hath been, there we may follow. Temptations
which he met and vanquished, we may aspire to
vanquish also, in the strength imparted by that
God who is his Father, and ours. The glorious
crown which he won, transcendent in radiance as
it is, is not all unlike the celestial diadems which
are to wreathe the brows of those who follow
in the path he first trod. We are encouraged
to contemplate his character more nearly, when
we know that its perfections are such as our
minds are adequate to contemplate, — such as
we ourselves may more or less nearly at length
The thought carries us into the future world.
If even here below, we are, if we strive to do
God's will, recognized by Christ as his brethren,
how much more truly may that exalted relation-
ship be the object of our anticipations, in connec-
tion with the happiness of heaven ! There, — we
OUR BROTHER. 85
are told by one of our elder brethren, his Apos-
tles, — there we shall be like him, for we shall
see him as he is. Well may the result follow
from the nearer communion, the enlarged power
of vision and of understanding, with which we shall
then be favored. Then shall our present doubts
and differences, respecting his station in the uni-
verse of his Father, be removed ; the knowledge
with regard to his character, which we can here
derive only from meditation on the accounts of
the Evangelists and Apostles, may there be in-
creased by more full revelations. Then, too, the
fascinating enjoyments of earth, the temptations
of sin, will be removed ; and, these withdrawn,
we shall be more able to contemplate and admire
the most glorious of all objects, moral loveliness.
Then, to our purified and quickened sight shall be
displayed, far more than here on earth, the great
designs which Jesus had in view in what he did,
and taught, and suffered ; and we shall see the
depth and fulness of that love which gave itself
for us. As we behold, can we but strive for
resemblance ? Ours then shall be, if here we
patiently and humbly strive to do God's will,
through ages without end on high, the rap-
ture of ever-increasing resemblance in charac-
ter to our glorious model, while, with each ap-
86 OUR SAVIOUR.
proach, still closer and closer will be drawn the
band of that affection which unites our spirits
to their glorified Brother, the Son of God, the
Saviour of the world.
CHRIST OUR EXAMPLE.
There is one peculiarity in our Saviour's moral
excellence, which, in the view of many, prevents
the full application of his example to our use. It
is this. The stainless virtue of the Saviour, we
are told, is accounted for by his peculiar connec-
tion with the Father. Setting aside the question
which has been so much discussed, of his pos-
sessing a share in the Divine nature, — setting
aside, also, the doctrine of his preexistence, as an
archangelic being, — he was, as man alone, priv-
ileged with an intercourse with the Most High,
such as has been granted to no other among the
children of men. The intimacy of that inter-
course is expressed in his own words, that " no
man knoweth the Son but the Father, and no man
knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whom
the Son will reveal him " ; — in the repeated as-
sertions that he came from God and went to God,
88 OUR SAVIOUR.
and the strong expression that he and the Father
are one. It is implied, too, in the miraculous
power which he exercised, and in the knowledge
he constantly evinced respecting the designs which
the Almighty intended to accomplish by his in-
strumentality. How, it is asked, can a being thus
exalted be an example to us ? How can we,
weak, ignorant creatures, to whom the Almighty
has never directly revealed himself by vision or
by miracle, whose rebellious passions have never
been awed into silence by the manifest presence
of the Holiest One, be called to follow the steps —
say rather the heavenward flight — of this divine-
ly privileged Son of God,? Would it not be as
reasonable to expect the savage to imitate the pro-
found calculations of a Newton ?
How shall we meet this difficulty ? We cannot
but admit its apparent importance, yet we perceive
considerations of various kinds that may be urged
to prove that still the example of Jesus, lofty and
divine as it is, may rightly be held up before us
as the mark of our aspirations, and of our reason-
able hope, too, for resemblance.
In the first place, let it be remembered that
there is a wide difference between the effort neces-
sary to lead where the path is yet unknown, and
that which is required in order to follow. We ad-
OUR EXAMPLE. 89
mire the genius of the great navigator who first
crossed the ocean, and revealed to astonished Eu-
rope the existence of this New World. But that
voyage once made, that knowledge once commu-
nicated, was any remarkable genius needed in
each of the numerous adventurers who followed
the track of the world-finder ? The comparison
has been made of the Christian following his Mas-
ter's example to the savage vainly called on to
imitate the scientific investigations of a Newton.
But the sublimest discoveries of Newton are now
familiar to thousands. So with the great subject
we would illustrate. Before the time of Christ,
revengeful feelings were indulged by those who
were regarded as the holiest men. David, whose
Psalms give proof of a heart full of the most
glowing love and devotion toward God, yet spared
not the bitterest imprecations against his own per-
sonal enemies, and probably never thought that
any future age would see aught in such senti-
ments to condemn. But listen to the Saviour on
the cross ! For the first time the world hears, in-
stead of a curse upon successful enemies, a pray-
er for them. " Father ! forgive them, for they
know not what they do.'" The glorious example
is set, and set once for all. The words once
heard, all perceive their sublimity, and many are
90 OUR SAVIOUR.
capable of sufficient elevation to take them upon
their lips and in their hearts. The very first fol-
lower of the Saviour who was put to death in his
cause, the Martyr Stephen, could die with the
same sentiment on his tongue, — " Lord, lay not
this sin to their charge " ; and hundreds, if not
thousands, since his time, have probably done
the same. So much easier is it to follow a glo-
rious example than originally to exhibit it to the
This reflection, we may remark, in passing,
while it encourages us to regard the imitation of
our Saviour as attainable, gives us a more exalted
idea of the perfections of our sacred model, and
a cheering view of the influence which his life
has already exerted on mankind. The example
of Christ has elevated human kind in general.
Some of the lessons he has taught us, we cannot
unlearn if we would. Those who are careless
about his religion, those who disbelieve it, are the
better for its instructions. Every one now knows
that the earth turns round on its axis ; every
one knows that it is noble to forgive injuries ; and,
as thousands who never heard of Galileo believe
the scientific truth he taught, so thousands are
profited by the teaching and example of Christ
who acknowledge no allegiance to his religion.
OUR EXAMPLE. 91
Our second answer to the objection brought
against the practicableness of our Lord's example
is, that, sublime as was the intercourse with God
that .he enjoyed, we possess something corre-
sponding. Of our Saviour's intercourse with God,
some portion must apparently have related to the
truths he was to teach, and the conduct he was to
observe in connection with his high and peculiar
office. This extraordinary and sublime commu-
nication of the Godhead may have been entirely
different from any thing which we share or of
which we have an idea. But not so was the com-
munication between him and his Heavenly Fa-
ther, which he enjoyed as an individual simply,
apart from his official character. We read of his
praying, and we, too, can pray. We read that
the spirit was given to him, not by measure ;
we know that it is bestowed on us, if we seek it
aright, though more sparingly. The difference, we
have reason to believe, is not of kind, but of de-
gree, except so far as related to our Lord's public
duties. What was peculiar in his inspiration was
for a peculiar purpose ; but those Divine supports
on which rested his holy human character may,
to a great extent, be ours.
If, then, we are told that the example of Jesus
is too lofty for us to imitate, we reply, in his own
words, " With men it is impossible, but not with
God." " Will not our Heavenly Father give his
good spirit unto them that ask him ? "
There is another consideration, which may be
brought to illustrate the application of our Sav-
iour's example to ourselves. Though his advan-
tages for attaining high virtue were far greater
than ours, his trials were also greater. This is in
conformity to the general laws of moral disci-
pline. The more we attain, the more we have
still before us, as the traveller towards the heart
of a mountainous region sees each successive
ridge arise before him loftier than the one he has
just surmounted. " To whom much is given, of
him is much required. 1 ' It is this truth that equal-
izes this world, as a state of probation for all,
whether outwardly more or less favored. It is this,
too, which makes it continue a state of probation
to us, however highly we may have attained.
Every new trust acquired has its corresponding
responsibleness ; every assurance that our con-
duct gives to those around us of our worth, leads
them to look to us with firmer hope for the future ;
and, if at last we fail, renders our failure more
melancholy. If, then, we must admit that the di-
rectness of our Saviour's intercourse with God,
and the knowledge which he possessed of his own
OUR EXAMPLE. 93
wonderful destiny, were safeguards to his virtue
in which we cannot share, let us observe, also, the
circumstances which exposed that virtue to trials
never endured by us. The most obvious of these
circumstances were the danger which threatened
him from the steady opposition of his most in-
fluential countrymen, a danger which he well
knew would finally become fatal ; the remorseless
and unprincipled nature, too, of that opposition,
which might have tempted another to forget his
own dignity and the claims of duty in the ex-
citement of a personal contest ; the allurements,
too, of ambition, in the general wish of his hear-
ers that he should become the champion, the de-
liverer, of his people. But these temptations, this
last, especially, were immeasurably increased by
the character of the powers he possessed. The
authority over nature, which apparently was con-
fided to others only in particular instances, was, if
we rightly understand the language of Scripture,
intrusted to him to an indefinite degree. The
most striking assurance of this is where he told
his followers, at the moment of his arrest, that he
could even then pray to his Father and receive
the aid of more than twelve legions of angels ;
adding, " But how then shall the Scriptures be
fulfilled, that thus it must be ? " His power,
S — &
94 OUR SAVIOUR.
then, was discretionary. And, reasoning from
analogy, we may conclude that his choice of
means and plans of action was, to a great degree,
discretionary also. Unless we believe this, we
must regard him as less a free agent in his
mighty work than any uninspired reformer in
his humbler sphere. What a view of our Lord's
power, and of his self-denial in the use there-
of, do these considerations present ! What a
view, also, of the greatness of the temptations
which he had to subdue ! He was made king
of the world, — animate and inanimate. The
thrones of earth were at his command. Nay,
more, it needed not, in order to attain any degree
of earthly triumph, that he should renounce his
high office as teacher of mankind, or prove dis-
tinctly unfaithful to his charge. Invested at dis-
cretion with these most lofty powers, the question
was for him to decide how he was to use them for
the best interest of mankind. He had it in his
choice to bless the world as a conqueror, as a
peaceful though prosperous king, or as a victim.
He had the guidance, indeed, of those prophecies
which intimated the suffering that marked his
course, and of the spirit of God to illuminate and
strengthen. But with his power, and with the
choice left to himself how he should exert it, the
OUR EXAMPLE. 95
temptation must have been strong indeed. He
was so aware of its strength, that he appears to
have felt, as with our less temptations we should
feel, that safety lay in not for one moment listen-
ing to it. Hence the sternness of his rebuke to
that disciple who ventured to remonstrate on his
chosen course. " Get thee behind me, adversary,
thou art a cause of sin to me ; for thou savorest
not the things that be of God, but the things that
be of man." If, then, we feel that our Lord pos-
sessed spiritual aids that we cannot share, let u*
remember, also, that trials and temptations were
his, far beyond any that we are called to en-
The same truth may be illustrated in a differ-
ent manner. The higher man ascends in virtue,
the more his delicacy of conscience increases.
Things which at first appeared innocent to him,
now, regarded by a purer sight, are classed
among those which he must avoid. The aspira-
tion of the mere novice in the Christian charac-
ter may go no higher than to avoid dishonesty,
profane language, and other of the grosser and
more obvious faults. As he becomes more ad-
vanced, he learns to appreciate the duty of reg-
ulating his language by the rules of consideration
and kindness, and exercising watchfulness over
96 OUR SAVIOUR.
his thoughts. Thus we find the case to be in the
imperfect degrees of virtue we are here privileged
to attain ; and we have reason to believe, that, in
those higher acquisitions which our Saviour made,
the law was still the same ; — that the exquisite
delicacy of his conscience recognized distinctions
between right and wrong that are imperceptible
to us, and that thus the spiritual aid he received
was no more than proportioned to the occasion he
found for its use.
If the views we have taken be correct, our Ho-
ly Redeemer, with all his supernatural powers,
was yet a fitting model for tempted mortals ; for
he, too, was tempted. He, too, was called to
wage a continual war against inducements that
were presented to him to withdraw him in some
degree from that sublime service which he under-
took. But he resisted every temptation, chose
and retained the path of the sufferer when he
might have trod in that of universal empire, and
set to mankind the example of sinlessness, — the
most perfect in holiness of all God's children.
We perceive, also, that, this example once set, to
follow it is a far easier task, as the humblest stu-
dent may now tread in the path of Newton, and
the obscurest navigator can follow in the track of
Columbus. The example of Jesus, then, is prac-
tical. It is not too high for man to aspire to be
like him. Nor is it perfect resemblance which
the justice of God, tempered by his mercy, de-
mands of us. If the endeavour be sincere, the
spirit humble, and the faith devout, deficiencies
will be forgiven. With that high example, then,
in view, with so much to aid our path and to show
us the greater difficulties that beset our Saviour's,
shall we fail to strive for the prize of holiness
which he has shown us how to win ? Let us re-
solve, like him, to serve our God and our race ;
like him, to suffer no earthly hope or fear to stand
between us and duty ; like him, to love and aid
even those by whom we have been unjustly treat-
ed ; like him, even in the hour of life's parting
anguish, to bow meekly to the will of God, to
comfort the distress of friends, to relieve and sup-
port the spirit of the trembling penitent, and pray
for our Father's blessing, even on our enemies.
As our Redeemer drew near to the closing
scenes of his ministry, the thought of all that was
to come appears to have been constantly present
to his mind. Did the grateful Mary pour oint-
ment on his head ? He referred the act, though
occurring in the hour of festivity, to his approach-
ing burial. Did Gentile strangers seek an inter-
view with him ? He replied to the disciple who
brought their request, " The hour is come that the
Son of man should be glorified," and then turned
from the thought of glory to that of death.* We
may enter more fully into the Saviour's feelings,
by taking a brief view of those objects which pre-
sented themselves to his prophetic anticipation.
The event most distinctly before his mind was
death, from which, under nearly all circumstances,
* John xii. 3-7; 20-27.
HIS ANTICIPATIONS. 99
human nature shrinks with loathing and dread. It
was death, too, in a form at once the most detested,
from the infamy it usually implied, and abhorred,
from the complication of bodily pain which at-
tended it. Of all the torments which bloody man
has invented for his fellow-man, none, probably,
has implied more of suffering than crucifixion. It
was a lingering death ; though, in the case of our
Redeemer, its pangs were far shorter than in most
instances, yet with him the agony of the con-
strained position, the lacerated flesh, the burning
limbs, the scorching thirst, endured about three
hours. Nor was this all ; previous to these
tortures, which drove out life, the sufferer bore
the infliction of the scourge, with the accompa-
nying insults of a brutal soldiery, and then was
obliged to carry the cross to the spot where the
execution was to take place. This burden was
so heavy, that the strength of our Saviour sank
under it, and his guards obliged a traveller whom
they met to aid in sustaining it. With all this im-
mediate bodily suffering was united the peculiarly
disgraceful nature of the punishment. The cross
is to us a hallowed emblem ; but when our Sav-
iour endured its weight and its tortures, the cross
was known but as the most disgraceful and most
painful means of inflicting the punishment of
100 OUR SAVIOUR.
death. It was reserved for the vilest of malefac-
tors, and for slaves. Such was the death to which
the holy Son of God submitted. Such was the
fate he had in view, when, steadfastly banishing
eveiy weaker thought, he exclaimed, " Father,
glorify thy name ! "
His was no sudden act of self-devotion, made
in a moment of excitement, when there was not
time to appreciate the full greatness of the suffer-
ings to be endured. No. From the first, the
dark future was placed before his mind. But his
choice was deliberately and unchangeably made.
He did not relax the sternness of his denunciations
against the hypocrite, though, while denouncing
him, he well knew the implacable and fatal en-
mity he was exciting against himself. But his
reliance was on stronger principles, — the sense
of duty, the love of mankind, the love of God.
And to the pains of death, to the tortures of an-
ticipation, another sting was added, by the thought
to whose enmity his death was owing. The feel-
ing of patriotism had its place, with every other
worthy and exalted emotion, in our Saviour's
breast. He loved his country, — Israel, the cho-
sen land and the chosen people of God. He
loved Jerusalem, the city of the Great King, the
place where only, throughout the world, a temple
HIS ANTICIPATIONS. 101
rose and an altar flamed to the worship of the
One True God. He loved his fellow-country-
men ; he would willingly have gathered them be-
neath his protection, and beneath the forgiving
mercy and love of his Father. He wept at the
thought of their approaching calamities. He was
their brother according to the flesh. He was the
lineal descendant of their ancient kings, — of Da-
vid and Solomon, whose reigns had been the pe-
riod of their highest political and spiritual glory.
He was the Messiah whom they had so long
•expected, and in whom they looked to see that
ancient glory restored. And he had come to
accomplish the prophecies, to fulfil the hopes of
his people, to shed on Israel and on the world the
blessings of a true and pure religion. Now he
was to die ; and who were to be the authors of his
death ? Those very men whom he had come to
bless and to save. It was Israel that had rejected
her Saviour. It was Jerusalem that clamored for
the crucifixion of her king. It was they for whose
good he had labored and prayed, over whose ob-
duracy he had wept, — they whom he loved as
fellow-countrymen, as brethren, as the subjects of
that earthly sceptre which he might have claimed,
and of that higher authority which belonged to
him as the Anointed Messenger of God, — it was
102 OUR SAVIOUR.
these to whom he owed his death. The feeling
of this added acuteness to his suffering. He saw
their ingratitude, their obstinacy. He felt deeply
the pang inflicted by this return of evil for the
good he had bestowed. But even this conquered
not his love of country. On the cross itself he
prayed for the forgiveness of his countrymen, on
the ground of ignorance. " Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do. 1 ' The very-
knowledge how fearfully Providence would avenge
his death, added another pang to his sufferings.
It was with no exultation in his tone, that he ex-
claimed, " Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for
me, but weep for yourselves and for your chil-
dren." He saw, in prophetic anticipation, the
scenes which were shortly to take place. He saw
the vine-covered hills and smiling plains of his
beloved Galilee desolated with fire, and the march
of invading armies. He beheld her flourishing
and populous cities levelled with the ground, and
the placid and beautiful lake which had been hon-
ored by his miracles and his instructions dyed
with the blood of thousands massacred on its
banks. He saw the royal and holy city, Jerusa-
lem, compassed with armies, and its own inhab-
itants, more fierce than their invaders, turning
their hands against each other ; without, instead
HIS ANTICIPATIONS. 103
of the three crosses on Calvary, thousands, on
which the exasperated Roman executed his pris-
oners ; within, the combined ravages of discord,
plague, and famine, — the mother herself, as we
are told, in some instances sustaining life upon the
flesh of her own offspring. He saw the Temple,
the sacred spot where God's honor dwelt, wrapped
in flames, while, amid bursting arches and falling
porticos, the battle still raged on between the
conquering Roman and the perishing remnant of
Judah. Thirty-eight years after the death of Je-
sus these things took place. They were the con-
sequences of a war, in which the nation never
would and never could have engaged, had they
adopted the peaceful religion of Jesus for their
guide. These were, then, in God's providence,
the awful consequences attendant on their rejec-
tion of him. To 4 these he looked forward ; the
anticipation of these miseries of his country added
bitterness to the cup of suffering he was compelled
to taste. Even for the guilty he could pray ; and
he knew how, in a season of such universal ca-
lamity, the innocent would be involved with the
guilty in a common doom.
And how must his heart have sunk within him
as he thought of what his disciples, his friends,
were to endure ! He left them, — those who had
104 OUR SAVIOUR.
been the companions of his labors, those who had
loved and honored him, and over whom he had
watched with answering love ; the enthusiastic Pe-
ter, the mild and affectionate John, and eveiy oth-
er member of that small but endeared company, —
he left them, and to what ? To a course of use-
fulness, indeed, and of glory, but a course of suf-
fering ; to the enmity alike of their own country-
men and of the Gentiles ; to temptations by which
their strength would be painfully tried, and be-
neath which he knew that sometimes and for a
season it would fail. We can imagine the mourn-
fulness in his tone, as he said to Peter, " Verily
I say unto thee, thou shalt deny me thrice " ; as
he said to the disciples, " All ye shall be offended
because of me this night." But he foresaw that
these temptations, these failures of strength, would
be but transitory. He trusted, he knew by the
intercourse of his spirit with that of God, that from
eveiy failure his Apostles would rise with renewed
vigor. Still more sad, then, may have been his
anticipation of the external calamities they would
be called to experience. He foresaw the painful
journeys they must undertake, the contumely, the
oppression, the tumultuous assaults, to which they
must be subjected. He saw the hand of Herod
stretched out to vex the Church, and James, the
brother of John, falling a victim to his fury. He
looked farther along the stream of time, and saw
the death of one glorious martyr after another ;
the crucifixion of Peter, the beheading of Paul ;
the still fiercer rage which was kindled in the
breasts of heathen rulers, as they saw their altars
gradually deserted, and their subjects embracing
the cause of the Redeemer. Persecution after
persecution he foresaw ; he declared that it would
be so, when he said, " I came not to send peace
on earth, but a sword." And darker still than
the prospect of the sufferings his disciples would
endure must have been that of the crimes they
would commit. How much more keenly must
the iron have entered into his soul, as he saw his
own Church rent in sunder, and its respective par-
ties persecuting one another even to the death !
Such were the alternating causes of joy and sor-
row, which crowded into our Saviour's breast as
he contemplated the effects of his death, in the
progress of his religion in the world.
He had felt as a friend, he was called to feel
also as a son. That earliest friend, his mother,
whose parental care his blameless infancy and his
holy youth had repaid with a fulness of love and
happiness such as never fell to the lot of any par-
ent but her, — that mother, worthy of the high
106 OUR SAVIOUR.
honor of giving birth to the Redeemer, he was to
leave, mourning and desolate. The thought of
her found attention amidst his dying agonies on
the cross ; he commended her, in almost his latest
breath, to the care of the disciple whom he loved,
and received comfort in the knowledge that his
request would be well complied with. " From that
hour that disciple took her unto his own home.'"
But the prospect before the mind of our Saviour
was not altogether gloomy. Above the dark pic-
ture of the ruin of his country, and the sufferings
of his friends, appeared the radiant dawn of pure
religion upon the world. Our Lord knew the
greatness of the cause in which he was to die.
He knew that through his death that cause would
triumph. His prophetic eye glanced over the
course of his Apostles, their trials, their exertions,
their success. He surveyed in spirit the extension
of his religion from city to city, from land to land,
its triumph over heathenism, its establishment
through the world. We may believe, too, that his
spirit was cheered by the assurance of that high
intercourse which he afterwards maintained with
his Apostles. He foresaw, it may be, that, though
removed from them in bodily presence, it would
still be granted him to influence them by an agen-
cy exerted upon their minds, and at times to re-
st — — — — — &
veal himself, as he did to Stephen and to Paul, by-
miraculous visions. High and rapturous must
have been the contemplation of his approaching
glory ; higher and more rapturous to his holy
mind, because with his own was united the glory
of his Father. Wherever his doctrine should pre-
vail, there he knew that the God from whom he
came would be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
With what emotions, then, of filial joy in the ad-
vancement of his Father's honor, with what be-
nevolent exultation in the good of mankind, must
he have looked forward to the time when the pure
and blessed religion introduced by him should be
extended through the earth, — when the throne
of the All-Holy should be established in every
For whom did Jesus die ? For mankind. For
those whom he had not seen. For the unworthy,
as well as for the virtuous. For us. Yes ; we
are of the number of those for whom that pre-
cious blood was shed. We are among those over
whom his prophetic vision passed, as among the
thousands of millions who should receive through
him the glad tidings of salvation. To us, then,
comes the call of gratitude for what he suffered.
" Greater love hath no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends."
CHRIST IN GETHSEMANE.
Our Saviour possessed human nature in its per-
fection. Every faculty, every perception, was
perfect ; and, not less than others, those percep-
tions which recognize the presence of painful and
terrifying objects. It was in the garden of Geth-
semane that this portion of his mental constitution
was called to its most agonizing trial. He felt
there as man must ever feel when, in the stillness
of midnight and solitude, in communion only with
God and his own heart, he meditates on the ap-
proach of a painful and seemingly disgraceful
death. Many have' thought the emotion which
the Saviour now exhibited too great to be ac-
counted for from this cause alone. They have
supposed that, at this awful hour, he endured some
terrors connected more mysteriously with the
high objects of his mission ; — that it was now
that he felt the burden of that vast sum of hu-
IN GETHSEMANE. 109
man transgression, for which his death was to
make atonement before God ; — that the terrors
of the powers of hell were around him, and awful
suggestions harassing his soul, while the favoring
countenance of God no longer beamed upon him,
but instead thereof he saw himself the object, for
a season, of the Divine displeasure, which was
transferred to him from the human race. We
cannot admit the correctness of these views in
their full latitude, while, instead of fiends torment-
ing him, we read that there appeared unto him an
angel strengthening him, and while we feel that,
instead of then experiencing the Divine displeas-
ure, the holy Jesus can at no period of his course
have received more fully the approbation of the
Most High than he did amid the agony, the hu-
miliation, the self-sacrifice, of that moment. And
yet it may well be believed that the thought
which came upon him, of the immense impor-
tance of that self-offering which he was then pre-
senting, had something in it calculated to over-
whelm the soul. He felt that on his endurance
depended consequences not to be limited by the
lapse of ages. The human race, for countless
unborn generations, were to be sharers in the joy
that he should communicate ; — and what if, in the
last awful hour, his strength were to fail, and the
n~ — 3
110 OUR SAVIOUR.
perfect example of patient suffering were to be
sullied by a single blot ? Is it too much to im-
agine that he, who all admit was perfect man, —
he who " was tempted in all points as we are," —
felt this supposition pass through his mind, and
shrunk and trembled under his great responsible-
ness, as he thought of the possibility that he
might not sustain it ? Does it not seem as if
some mental struggle of this kind was indicated
in the words he used to his disciples ? — " Pray
that ye enter not into temptation ; the spirit truly
is willing, but the flesh is weak." Did he mean
to suggest to them a warning, from the fearful
nature of that trial, which even he had scarcely
been able to bear ?
But whatever we may fancy, who shall pretend
to fathom thoroughly the feelings which passed
through that pure and glorious soul in its hour of
deepest affliction ? Their result was expressed
in the prayer, " Father, if thou be willing, let
this cup pass from me ; nevertheless, not my will,
but thine, be done." The first sentence of that
prayer was the expression of those natural feel-
ings which have been commented on. We may
view it as something more ; as a last solemn act of
humility, in laying down before the throne of his
Father his mediatorial crown, divesting himself of
IN GETHSEMANE. Ill
the high office of Redeemer of the world, so far
as he might consistently with duty, that he might
assume it again, not of his own will, but of the
will of his Father, — not depending on his own
strength, but on the strength of his Father. If
we may venture to express the sentiments of that
prayer more at large, thus might we interpret it.
" Father, thou hast committed to me a task of
fearful magnitude ; I have assumed it in obedience
to thy will ; and now I stand about to enter on
that scene of insult and suffering, before which
my soul sinks in utter dismay. How shall I en-
dure that which is before me ? How shall I pass
through this more than fiery trial, without obscur-
ing, by any deficiency, the brightness of that ex-
ample which thy chosen one must leave to his
disciples through all ages to come ? O Father,
the spirit is willing to obey thee, but the flesh, the
love of life, and every feeling which thou hast im-
pressed on this human nature, — these shrink from
that awful duty ; and 1 shrink, too, from that worse
fear, that I may possibly fail in its full discharge.
Father ! if it be thy will, I would lay down before
thee the office thou hast given. But thy will, not
mine, be done."
" Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.'"
Here was at length the triumph of faith, and love
112 OUR SAVIOUR.
to God and man, and glorious self-devotion, over
every doubt and every fear. This language
was not a mere profession, without corresponding
meaning. It was not a form of words, adopted
from distant antiquity, or even from any single
previous example, to express a resignation which
was not felt. It conveyed the sincere and entire
submission of his own will to the will of God.
And in that submission the Saviour found a re-
newal of strength and peace. The worst strug-
gle was now over, — the bitterness of death was
in a great measure past ; the patient Son of God
was prepared to endure, in the strength of his
Father, what was yet to be laid upon him of suf-
fering, abuse, and death.
THE ARREST, TRIAL, AND CRUCIFIXION.
The narrative of the sufferings of Jesus has
been a thousand times repeated, but it has not
lost, and can never lose, its interest to his follow-
ers. Let us trace, step by step, the successive in-
cidents of those affecting scenes.
From the agonizing struggle, and the prayer
of self-renunciation, our Lord returned to his
disciples, whom he had left to await him at a
short distance. He found them, we are told,
" sleeping for sorrow." Had they been aware,
like him, of the immediate approach of danger,
excitement would have banished sleep ; but theirs
was only the saddened feeling produced by wit-
nessing in him a grief, the cause of which they
could but imperfectly understand, and this feeling
rather aided than resisted the influence of fatigue
and darkness. He aroused them, saying that the
hour of his betrayal had come. His words were
114 OUR SAVIOUR.
fulfilled while yet upon his lips. A multitude
approached, led by Judas, who knew the place to
which his Master was accustomed to resort. The
traitor designates his Lord by a kiss, the abused
mark of love and confidence ; and the Saviour
himself comes forward and declares that he is the
man they seek. The soldiers, though awed at
first by the calm majesty of his demeanour, make
him their prisoner. Peter attempts a vain resist-
ance, but the Saviour forbids it, and performs, even
in that moment, a miracle of mercy, healing the
wound which his ardent disciple had made. He
desires of his captors, in surrendering himself,
that those with him should not be detained. Self-
collected at that trying moment, he remembers
and fulfils eveiy duty. He notices, too, with deep
feeling, those circumstances of his capture which
were most revolting, — the treacherous kiss, and
the arrest by an armed multitude at night, when
ample opportunity had been given for the sum-
mons of a legal officer. " Judas, betrayest thou
the Son of Man with a kiss ? " " Be ye come
out against a thief, with swords and staves ?
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye
stretched forth no hands against me ; but this is
your hour, and the power of darkness."
He was taken first, probably by previous orders
THE TRIAL. 115
from Caiaphas, to the house of Annas, the father-
in-law and predecessor of the high-priest. An-
nas, it is conjectured, could not, on account of
age, be present with those assembled in the house
of Caiaphas ; and the sanction of his authority
was desired for the course which they intended to
pursue. However this may have been, the aged
magistrate appears to have at once referred the
case to his son-in-law, Caiaphas, the actual pos-
sessor of the high priesthood ; and to his house
Jesus was next conducted.
Here he was examined, though apparently in
an irregular manner, the formal meeting of the
Sanhedrim not taking place till the morning. In
the mean time, however, witnesses were sought and
heard against him, and he was subjected to insult
and abuse. It was during this interval, too, that
his ear caught, from the outer room, the excited
tones of a well-known voice, the voice of the most
ardent of his friends, denying with oaths that he
knew him. This he had himself foretold, yet the
fulfilment added bitterness to the cup of misery.
In the morning the council assembled and
passed their sentence ; but the power was not
theirs to carry it into effect. That power resided
with the Roman governor, and to him the prisoner
was now led.
116 OUR SAVIOUR.
Brought before Pilate, the Saviour is questioned
upon the charge made against him, of aspiring to
the name and authority of a king. He asserts, in
reply, his claim to that title, but qualifies the dec-
laration with the words, " My kingdom is not of
this world." " To this end was I born, and for
this cause came I into the world, that I should
bear witness unto the truth." " What is truth ? "
exclaims the governor, apparently with contemp-
tuous indifference. But he appears to have been
satisfied, by the answers of Jesus, that he was
neither a guilty nor a dangerous person. The
Jews, however, are clamorous for his death, and
Pilate avails himself of the suggestion that the
prisoner belonged to Galilee, to refer the case to
Herod, prince of that province, then on a visit to
Jerusalem. By Herod he is sent back to Pilate,
arrayed in a purple robe, in mockery of his sup-
posed pretensions to royalty. The better feelings
of the governor struggle long against his timid and
unprincipled policy, and that very struggle does
but increase the torture of the Divine sufferer,
who is scourged and crowned with thorns, that the
compassion of the people may be excited in his
favor. At length Pilate yields, and the Saviour is
led forth, bearing his cross. As he passes along,
nearly fainting under his dreadful burden, a
THE CRUCIFIXION. 117
traveller (we may imagine) stops and regards the
victim with an eye of pity, or utters some excla-
mation that betrays his feelings. He is seized
by the soldiers, and compelled to aid in bearing
They move on. But now the company who
trod that which should for ever after be called the
Dolorous Way, was swelled by the accession of
the friends of Jesus, and the women who, to the
lasting glory of their sex, had thus far honored
and now bewailed him. To these he addresses
a few words, of awfully prophetic import, referring,
but not vindictively, to the miseries that were to
come upon his country from those Romans by
whose hands he was now to die. On reaching
Calvary, " they gave him vinegar to drink, min-
gled with gall." This was a stupefying draught,
provided by the rude mercy of the age, to dimin-
ish the pangs of that fearful mode of execution.
But " when he had tasted thereof, he would not
drink." No cloud must be upon his faculties, to
obscure the vision of the opening heaven, and
dim the brightness of his dying example.
His first words when on the cross, and in the
recent agony of his wounds, were, " Father ! for-
give them ; for they know not what they do."
Is it too much to say that these are the most
sublime words ever uttered by man ? Jesus had
taught the lesson, " Love your enemies," and men
had marvelled, as they marvel now, that he should
deliver a precept so impossible to observe. He
now showed that the glorious soul that could con-
ceive the law was capable also of its fulfilment.
Again he speaks ; and they are words of com-
fort to the penitent offender at his side.
Again ; and it is with the care of a son for the
mother who never till now had known the mean-
ing of those words, " Yea, a sword shall pierce
through thine own soul also." Mary ! " highly
favored among women!" — were the angelic
announcement, the early signs and wonders, the
sinless childhold, the holy youth, the divine matu-
rity, all to end in this ? Retain thy faith, mother
of the Saviour ! He remembers thee in this hour
of his own agony and thine ; think not, then, that
he can be abandoned by his God and Father !
And yet what means that startling cry ? " My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? "
Fear not ; those words from his lips no more im-
ply distrust, than they did in the earnest pleading
of that psalm which, the sufferer now applies to
his own condition.
The agony of the cross produces its usual
effect, excessive thirst ; and Jesus, who had never
THE CRUCIFIXION. 119
taught, like the Stoics, that there was virtue in
an affected insensibility to pain, expresses that
feeling. It is relieved by tasting, not of the
drugged beverage offered him before, but of vine-
" When Jesus therefore had received the vine-
gar, he said, It is finished ; and he bowed his
head, and gave up the ghost."
I am now about to unite with my fellow-disci-
ples in the act of commemorating our Redeemer.
Let me consider the meaning of what I do, and,
as the Apostle has directed, " examine myself,"
before I " eat of that bread and drink of that
It is an ordinance of profession. Has my con-
duct been worthy of the religion I profess ? Fa-
ther, who knowest my sins, grant that I may see
them in their true light, may turn from them, and
hereafter walk more worthily before thee !
It is an ordinance of commemoration. Have I
kept in memory my Saviour's law, and the ex-
ample by which it was illustrated ? Has the light
of his character been reflected from mine ?
124 THE COMMUNICANT.
It is an ordinance of love to him. It reminds
me of his love to mankind, displayed in his death.
How shall I best manifest my own in return ?
He hath said, " If ye love me, keep my command-
It is a communion, a feast of brotherly love.
" By this shall all men know that ye are my dis-
ciples, if ye have love one to another." Have I
exhibited, not to man alone, but to God, this mark
of a true discipleship ?
It is an occasion for grateful feeling to that God
who sent Jesus on earth. Is my gratitude mani-
fested by my life ? Have I " ceased to do evil " ?
Do I " learn to do well " ?
Let me take for my guidance, in self-examina-
tion, the Ten Commandments of God's ancient
law, applying them, as extended and illustrated
by the Gospel, to my own conduct and spiritual
I. Have I any " other gods " before Jehovah ?
Is there any object to whose service I have bound
myself more than to his ? Is eagerness for wealth
or distinction leading me away from duty ? Have
I been led into idolatry by the warmth of my af-
fections, or do I hold even my dearest treasures
in humility, as subject to His will who gave them,
and can resume ?
II. Do I serve God after the right manner, or
as they of old time worshipped him by unworthy
emblems, do I render to him such tribute as can-
not be pleasing in his sight ? Does the feeling of
sectarian bitterness mingle with my zeal for truth,
or is my worship tainted with formalism, hypocri-
sy, or superstition ?
III. Have I guarded my lips against irreverence
of expression ? Do I suppress, as it rises in my
thoughts, the misapplication of Scripture, and
every word that may diminish the regard of
others, or my own, for sacred things ? Am I
faithful, in letter and in spirit, to every vow that
I have taken, every obligation that I have assumed
in the sight of God ?
IV. Do I keep holy the Lord's day, not only
by refraining from common labor, but by endeav-
ouring to derive, for myself and others, due relig-
ious improvement from its blessed privileges ?
V. Do I discharge to those of my own family
the obligations which I owe to them, not " grudg-
ingly, as of necessity," but from the fulness of
the heart? In the relations I sustain as son or
daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, fa-
ther or mother, and in whatever other position I
may be placed, how does conscience bear witness
to my faithfulness ?
126 THE COMMUNICANT.
VI. Have I sought to do injury, or wished evil,
to any ? Have I encouraged quarrels, or striven
to appease them ? Has my influence been, as far
as I could exert any, on the side of peace and of
the welfare of mankind ?
VII. Have I been pure, not only in outward
deed, but in word and thought ? Do I exercise a
rigid self-control, and refuse to indulge unduly
any appetite or passion ?
VIII. Do I sacredly respect the rights of others ?
Is my hand pure from all dishonest gains ? Do I
render unto all their dues, not only as required by
law, but by the strictest judgment of conscience ?
IX. Am I careful to guard against the sin of
slander? Do I avoid the repetition of reports
that are unfavorable to others, and discourage the
propensity to circulate such reports where I per-
ceive it in those around me ? Do I ever, for con-
venience, or from a love of exaggeration, deviate
from the plain rule of truth ?
X. Am I contented with the blessings God has
given, or is mine a restless, repining, envious
spirit? Can I bear to see myself excelled by
others ? Do I covet my neighbour's goods, or see
with pleasure the enjoyments which others receive
from the Benefactor of all ?
To these questions, derived from the ancient
Law, let me add the thoughts suggested by the
more comprehensive summary of the Saviour.
Matthew xxii. 37-40.
Is it my earnest wish to love the Lord my God
with all my heart, and with all my soul, and
with all my mind ? Have I attained to any ade-
quate degree of this holy feeling? How may I
advance therein ?
Do I love my neighbour as myself? Does the
desire of doing good to others spring up within
me as an ever-flowing fountain ? Does my life,
in all the relations I sustain, as a member of a
family, as a citizen, as a man, bear witness to the
existence of this principle within ?
Do I observe the golden rule, doing unto others
as I would that they should do unto me ?
On these questions let me pause, and bring to
memoiy my past conduct, especially of late.
Then, having discerned wherein I am most defi-
cient, let me address to my Heavenly Father a
prayer of penitence.
PRAYER AFTER SELF-EXAMINATION.
O Thou who art of purer sight than to behold
iniquity ! how shall I come before thee, conscious
as I am of many departures from thy law ? As
I survey my own past conduct, and compare it
with the requirements of thy Divine commands,
I feel that I have indeed come short of that obe-
dience which it was my duty to render. I have
yielded to unworthy motives ; I have neglected
duty ; I have walked in forbidden paths. O God !
grant me to feel, still more, my own un worthiness.
Yet, O Thou whose property it is always to have
mercy ! grant, I pray thee, thy Divine forgiveness.
I repent of my sins, and resolve to use my best
endeavours to avoid them in future. May my re-
pentance be accepted before thee, for I desire to
present it in all lowliness and sincerity of heart.
Do thou, O God! by the aid of thy holy spirit,
render it more worthy of thine own acceptance.
PRAYER AFTER SELF-EXAMINATION. 129
May it be deep and permanent. May I be aided
by thee, in the efforts on which I now resolve, to
amend my outward conduct, to keep a guard over
my lips, to restrain even my thoughts from evil.
For my past offences, what satisfaction can I
bring ? I can but implore, in deep humility, thy
forgiveness, and plead the promises of thy love,
declared by Jesus Christ our Saviour. In the holy
name of him who lived and died for man, I pre-
sent my prayer unto thee, O Father ! ascribing to
thee infinite power, wisdom, love, and mercy.
PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION.
O God, our Heavenly Father! thou didst, in
infinite love, send thy well-beloved Son, Jesus
Christ, our Lord, to lead mankind back from the
mazes of sin, to the knowledge and love of thee,
and the peace that is found in obedience. I thank
thee for the precious blessings conferred through
him. I thank thee for thy mercy to a world that
lay in darkness and in sin. With deeper emo-
tions, O God, do I bless thee for thy mercy dis-
played toward myself individually. Thanks to
thee, O Father ! that I have had my birth and
education in a Christian land ; thanks for the in-
structions with which I have been favored, whether
in early youth or in riper years, that have con-
tributed to keep me from sin, and to lead me in
the way in which I ought to tread. Thanks to
thee for the means of grace afforded me, in the
privileges of public worship, and in the ordinances
PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION. 131
of the Gospel. With shame do I confess that my
conduct has not been conformable, in all respects,
to the advantages I have enjoyed. It is not of
my own merit, but of thy mercy, that I am per-
mitted to draw nigh to thee, and encouraged to
share in the memorials of my Saviour's dying
love. O God ! may it be with deep humility that
I unite with my fellow-believers in this affecting
ordinance. May no feeling of spiritual pride
arise within me, but rather may I realize that new
and increased effort is needed, that I may hold
my profession unstained and be steadfast unto the
end. And for those with whom I unite, I pray
as for myself. Aid us, O God! to contemplate
with heartfelt gratitude the self-sacrificing love
of our holy Redeemer. Aid us to meditate upon
the perfections of his character, and to derive
thence light to discern, and strength to pursue,
our own path of duty. And unto thee, O God !
as an humble disciple of that blessed Saviour, do
I ascribe the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION, IN
God, Bestower of every blessing ! I give
thanks to thee for the love that has crowned my
days. Thy mercies are more than I can number.
Let my heart with gratitude acknowledge them ;
let my life show forth that this gratitude is sincere.
And now, O Father, as I am about to " take the
cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the
Lord," — to "pay my vows unto thee, in the
presence of thy people," — grant that I moy bring
to the hallowed ordinance those thoughts and feel-
ings that are appropriate. Keep far from me
that pride which would ascribe to myself the
blessings I enjoy. I have nothing but what I
have received from thee ; whether health, or
friends, or possessions, all are thine. May I feel
this ever, and now especially, as I commemorate
him who, " though he were rich, yet for our sakes
PRAYER IN PROSPERITY. 133
became poor, that we through his poverty might
be rich." May I so far as is in my power imi-
tate his holy example, using the means thou hast
bestowed upon me, not for my own good only,
but as thy steward, for the good of those around
me. Keep me, O Lord, safe from the trials which
beset a prosperous condition ; from pride and van-
ity, from the love of selfish indulgence, from neg-
lect of the claims of my fellow-beings, from in-
difference to their sufferings, from forgetfulness of
thyself, and disregard of thy holy law. And
thine for ever, O God, be praise and glory in the
highest, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION, IX
Thou givest, O God ! life and all life's bless-
ings ; and when thou dost resume them, still
blessed be thy holy name for ever ! I come, O
Father ! bowed low by affliction, to discharge my
duty, and seek for comfort and strength, in com-
memorating him who tasted the cup of sorrow for
my sake. O, grant me grace to contemplate
aright the perfections of his character; to feel
that, if he so meekly and patiently endured, it be-
comes me, as his disciple, to bear thy holy will
without a murmur. May I be encouraged by the
thought, that, as thy Divine purposes for man's
redemption were wrought out by the sufferings of
Jesus, so every burden that we are called to bear
will become, if patiently endured, the means for
the accomplishment of some wise and gracious
design. Send me, O Lord ! if it seem fit to thee,
PRAYER IN ADVERSITY. 135
relief from the trial under which I am placed.
But more fervently would I pray thee, increase
my faith and my patience to bear it. I bless thee
for whatever circumstances of relief or comfort
thou hast afforded, and for the many mercies to
which the course of my life bears witness. En-
able me more fully to realize thy goodness, in the
past and in the present. Suffer not my strength
to fail, O God ! but may I sustain my trials and
discharge my duties as befits an humble disciple
of the blessed Jesus. And to thee, in his holy
name, be praises for evermore. Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION, WHEN PRI-
VATELY ADMINISTERED IN SICKNESS.
O Thou in whose hands our life and breath
are ! I bless thee that before I am called hence,
to be no more seen on earth, thou dost permit me
to commemorate my Saviour in the way of his
appointment. Thine hand is upon me, and I
cannot go with the multitude of them that keep
holy day, to meet my Redeemer and my God in
the house of prayer. But thou preparest for
me, here in privacy, the table of thine outward
ordinance. O, nourish my longing spirit with
heavenly food. As in these emblems I behold
the death of my Saviour, let me derive from the
contemplation strength for the scene that perhaps
ere long awaits myself. May his meek endur-
ance be reflected in mine. May his constant faith,
his submission to thy holy will, his love to thee, to
his disciples and friends, and to all mankind, pro-
PRAYER IN SICKNESS. 137
duce in me their own resemblance. If I have
cherished thus far an unkind feeling toward any,
enable me now, O God ! to banish it for ever from
my breast, as I think of him who prayed for thy
forgiveness on his murderers. If the pains of my
sickness are severe, let my thoughts rest on
those of my Redeemer's cross ; and wilt thou, O
Father ! who didst strengthen him in the sorrows
of Gethsemane, sustain me in the anticipation and
in the reality of that which is before me. Grant,
Lord ! that I may part from life with calm and
perfect trust in thee. I have sinned ; forgive thou
my sins ; confirm, perfect, and accept my peni-
tence. And when death is past, O Father ! shall
1 then — rapturous thought ! — enter into the bliss
reserved for those who are found faithful ? Why
should I fear, when this is before me ? Fulfil, O
my God ! the blessed anticipation, and to thee, in
the hallowed name of the Sufferer on Calvary, be
glory ascribed, now, and with my dying voice.
PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only be-
gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should
not perish, but have everlasting life. John iii. 16.
Scarcely for a righteous man will one die ; yet
peradventure for a good man some would even
dare to die. But God commendeth his love to-
ward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us. Romans v. 7, 8.
For it became him, for whom are all things,
and by whom are all things, in bringing many
sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their sal-
vation perfect through sufferings. Heb. ii. 10.
For such an high-priest became us, who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and
made higher than the heavens. Heb. vii. 26.
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an exam-
ple, that ye should follow his steps : who did no
sin, neither was guile found in his mouth : who,
PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE. 139
when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when he
suffered, he threatened not ; but committed him-
self to him that judgeth righteously : who his own
self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,
that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
righteousness : by whose stripes ye were healed.
1 Peter ii. 21-24.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold ; mine
elect, in whom my soul delighteth ; I have put my
spirit upon him : he shall bring forth judgment to
the Gentiles. He shall not ciy, nor lift up, nor
cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised
reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall
he not quench : he shall bring forth judgment un-
to truth. Isaiah xlii. 1-3 ; Matt xii. 17-20.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I
am the light of the world : he that followeth me
shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the
light of life. John viii. 12.
Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me : for I am meek and
lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your
souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is
light. Matt. xi. 28 - 30.
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world ! John i. 29.
140 THE COMMUNICANT.
I am the good shepherd : the good shepherd
giveth his life for the sheep. John x. 11.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried
our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgres-
sions, he was bruised for our iniquities ; the chas-
tisement of our peace was upon him ; and with
his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray ; we have turned every one to his
own way ; and the Lord hath laid on him the in-
iquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was
afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth : he is
brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep
before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not
his mouth. Isaiah liii. 4-7.
This is my commandment, that ye love one
another, as I have loved you. Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down
his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if
ye do whatsoever I command you. John xv.
Whosoever shall do the will of my Father
which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and
sister, and mother. Matt. xii. 50.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that
he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitia-
tion for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us,
we ought also to love one another. God is love ;
PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE. 141
;u id he that dwclleth in love dwelleth in God, and
God in him. 1 John iv. 10, 11, 16.
Christ our passover is sacrificed for us ; there-
fore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven,
neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness ;
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and
truth. 1 Cor. v. 7, 8.
Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having
a wedding garment ? Matt. xxii. 12.
Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the
things which I say ? Luke vi. 46.
Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works, and glorify your Fa-
ther which is in heaven. Matt. v. 16.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they
shall be called the children of God. Matt. v. 8, 9.
He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after
me, is not worthy of me. Matt. x. 38.
Now the end of the commandment is charity,
out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience,
and of faith unfeigned. 1 Tim. i. 5.
Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this
present world ; looking for that blessed hope, and
the glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ ; who gave himself for us,
142 THE COMMUNICANT.
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of
good works. Titus ii. 12 - 14.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it
doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we
know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like
him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John iii. 2.
THE CHRISTIAN'S WALK.
THE CHRISTIANS WALK.
BEARING THE CROSS.
" He that taketh not his cross, and followeth
after me, is not worthy of me." — Matt. x. 38.
It was not without reason that our Lord pre-
pared the minds of his disciples, by such words as
these, for the exercise of self-denial, and the en-
durance of suffering. The fulfilment of their
duty to him and to his cause required of them, in
that age, no slight amount of firmness, no waver-
ing faith nor lukewarm zeal. The first require-
ment was indifference to worldly property, and,
on the part of the teachers of the religion, its
relinquishment. This was necessary, in order that
their minds might undividedly attend to the one
great object to which they were to be devoted.
The scorn and hatred of the community at large,
146 the christian's walk.
and especially of the most respected and influen-
tial class, they were sure to incur. Toil and
privation, the alienation of families and friends,
imprisonments, scourgings and tortures, were con-
sequences neither remote nor improbable, to the
view of any who should avow themselves disciples
of Jesus; and it was soon found, after the great
Master himself had suffered, that they who aspired
to follow him must prepare themselves for the
probability of being called to glorify him by a
martyr's death. Such were the crosses which the
early disciples bore ; and he who was not ready
to bear them was declared unworthy of his
Though times have changed, and persecution
has ceased, the Gospel of Christ remains the
same. It still requires the disciple to take up his
Saviour's cross and follow him. Our devotion to
his cause must be as entire, if we would be
counted worthy of our Lord, as was that of those
who went before us. If times of persecution
should return, it cannot be questioned that our
duty would be the same with that of those who
suffered for Christ in the age which followed his
ascension, — to bear, if need should be, the literal
cross, or to endure whatever tortures a Herod or a
Nero could devise, rather than forsake our Master
BEARIXG THE CROSS. 147
or dishonor our faith. There is not less, then,
of the spirit of faithful endurance in the heart
required now than of old ; but our more indulgent
lot has placed us where the occasions for its ex-
ertion are less terrible. We have still to bear
meekly and firmly whatever burden it may please
Providence to impose ; but Providence grants to
us lighter burdens than were endured by those of
old. Shall we not thankfully receive and faith-
fully sustain them ?
We have, however, our crosses ; and it is well
for us that we have them. Well did that noble-
hearted Christian, William Penn, place the senti-
ment as the title to one of his treatises, " No cross,
no crown." It was by endurance that the Saviour
was glorified ; it is only by endurance, by meekly
sustaining sorrow, and bravely combating with
temptation, that we can rise to the resemblance
of our Lord, to that perfection in holiness which
shall be the crown of our everlasting rejoicing.
What, then, are our crosses ? What is it that in
this day the Christian must nerve himself to bear,
faithfully and patiently, under the alternative of
being declared unworthy of his Master ? It is,
first, in general terms, whatever affliction or trial
Providence may send. Our sorrows come not
now, as in ancient times, except in small propor-
148 the christian's walk.
tion, as the direct consequence of our profession
of Christianity. But we may still regard them as
the cross we are to bear for Christ. He came,
not only to strengthen the martyr to endure his
fiery trial, but to minister aid in every form of
suffering that man can know ; and there are some-
times sufferings in common, modern, and outward-
ly peaceful life, which may well compare with
those of martyrdom.
" The writhings of a wounded heart
Are fiercer than a foeman's dart.
Oft in life's stillest shade reclining,
In desolation unrepining,
"Without a hope on earth to find
A mirror in an answering mind,
Meek souls there are, who little dream
Their daily strife an angel's theme,
Or that the rod they take so calm
Shall prove in heaven a martyr's palm."
There are some of our crosses, and those of
the heaviest kind, sin alone excepted, in enduring
which we have peculiarly the encouraging thought
that we are following our Master. They are the
very burdens which he bore before us. Such are
poverty, labor, pain, disgrace, bereavement, temp-
tation. Let us contemplate them in turn.
Poverty. — The Son of God, the Saviour of
BEARING THE CROSS. 149
men, had not where to lay his head. His subsis-
tence while engaged in the work of his ministry
was from the contributions of others. " Though he
were rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that
we through his poverty might be rich.' 1 Few in
our happy countiy are called to know the extreme
of poverty, as endured by thousands in the Old
World. Ours is more generally that middle sta-
tion, which is as far removed from penuiy as from
wealth ; the condition for which one prayed of
old, — " Give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed
me with food convenient for me ; lest I be full,
and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? or lest
I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my
God in vain." Proverbs xxx. 8, 9. Shall we
not only fail to appreciate the moral advantages
of such a position, but, when so much is granted,
ungratefully complain that we have not more ?
Nay, rather, even if our lot be still more lowly,
let us remember the poverty of Jesus, and reflect
that " the disciple is not above his master, nor the
servant above his lord."
Labor. — The ministry of Christ was not one of
ease. The days were spent in journeying with
his disciples, until, wearied with his travel, he
rested, as by the well of Samaria ; or in instruc-
tions to the multitude, who thronged upon him so
M ■ ft
150 THE CHRISTIAN'S WALK.
continually, that at one time we are told he had not
an interval " so much as to eat," and his own rel-
atives went forth and sought to lay hold on him,
" for they said he is beside himself." His nights
were spent, in various instances, in retirement on
some mountain height, where by prayer and medi-
tation he was strengthening himself for still further
endurance. If labor is in this world our portion,
shall we not learn from his cross to endure ours ?
Pain. — How many a Christian, suffering the
agony of sickness, has turned in thought to those
pains of body which the Redeemer endured, and
found strength to bear as Christ had borne. When
the weight of the literal cross was placed upon
him, his frame was yet suffering under cruel inflic-
tions, and as with toil he moved on beneath his
burden, even the savage executioners so far com-
passionated him, as to compel another to assist
him in sustaining it. Hence how short was the
interval to the infliction of still more excruciating
tortures, the completion of the horrid penalty
which impious man exacted from the innocent and
the holy ! Yes ! Let those who are called to
endure pain think on the agonies of the Saviour's
crucifixion, and learn patience of him who there
so meekly suffered.
Disgrace. — Harder to bear than corporeal pain,
BEARING THE CROSS. 151
to a mind possessing any thing of nobleness, is the
scorn of fellow-beings. To be despised and re-
jected of men, the object of reproach to all around,
— can any affliction transcend this ? Yet this too
the Redeemer endured. He was thus despised,
thus rejected. This trial was added to the immedi-
ate sufferings of his cross, when they that passed
by, wagging their heads, exclaimed, " He saved
others, himself he cannot save," — when even his
own chosen friends betrayed, abandoned, and de-
nied him. Scarcely in this age can it be ours to
suffer disgrace for the cross of Christ ; and yet
there is something which the minds of those who
ought to be his disciples represent to themselves
as partaking of this character. They fear the
opinions of men, if they should venture to be
known as religious. The offence of the cross has
not, in their view, entirely ceased ; and, honored as
the Gospel is by thousands, they are still afraid of
the supposed dishonor accompanying its profession.
Let them recognize, rather, if they are called to
endure shame for the name of Jesus, in this very
shame the cross which Providence summons them
to bear. Let them heed then his words who de-
clared, " He that taketh not his cross, and followeth
after me, is not worthy of me," and instead of
shrinking from the light yoke and easy burden
152 the christian's walk.
which the Gospel in this age presents, let them
emulate the self-devoted spirit of those disciples,
who returned from trial and scourging to give
thanks, " rejoicing that they were counted worthy
to suffer shame for his name.'" Acts v. 41.
Bereavement. — Painful is that trial, and it
comes in turn to us all.
" Friend after friend departs ;
Who hath not lost a friend ? "
It is sad to bid the last farewell to those we love.
Whether they go from us in infancy, in middle
life, or in age, whether the blow be sudden or
long anticipated, we feel that grief must have
way, that nature bids us lament ; nor can religion,
with all her consolations, prevent our rendering
the tribute of sorrow which affection claims. Yet,
Christian, in thy mourning, feel thou that the cross
thou bearest is that which Providence hath imposed
upon thee ; — feel, too, and be consoled by the re-
membrance, that he in whose steps thou art tread-
ing bore this cross also. Jesus, like thee, wept by
a friend's grave. Hallowed remembrance ! What
Christian has mourned and has found consolation,
that would bear to lose from the Scriptures that
passage in which the beloved disciple has record-
ed the tears of Jesus by the grave of Lazarus ?
In another sense, too, did Jesus endure bereave-
BEARING THE CROSS. 153
ment. Who ever was, like him, alone among
mankind ? His nearest friends could not com-
prehend his spirit nor his purposes. His disci-
ples, at the moment of danger, " forsook him and
Temptation. — Grievous are the sufferings of
bodily anguish, sharp the pangs of a lacerated
spirit ; but there is a cross more to be dreaded than
these. It is temptation. Better the death of the
body than the ruin of the soul ; and temptation is
that which threatens the soul's ruin. The Saviour
himself taught his disciples to pray, " Lead us not
into temptation " ; and yet we have to tread that
path ; we know that we must tread it so long as
life remains. Our position is one of struggle
against evil inducements ; and the Divine wisdom
sees best, for reasons which we can partially dis-
cern, that it should be so. But despair not, disciple
of Jesus, who bearest the cross of temptation ; for
he also bore it, and bore it triumphantly. From
the first hours of his ministry, when, led by the
spirit into the wilderness to meditate, he beheld
the prizes of ambition placed before him, and
turned from them all to follow the straight and
narrow path of duty, through all his long course
of faithfulness, up to the hour when he bore
meek yet majestic witness to the truth before
154 THE CHRISTIAN'S WALK.
Pontius Pilate, did he " suffer, being tempted."
How hard that trial was, it is in some instances
permitted us to have an idea from the expressions
which it wrung from him. " Pray," said he to
his disciples once after such an inward contest,
— " pray that ye enter not into temptation ; the
spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak."
" Now," he said at another time, — " now is my
soul troubled, and what shall I say ? Father, save
me from this hour ? But for this cause came I
unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name ! "
Temptation could assail him, but it could not con-
quer. Firmly he endured that cross also, and
having remained faithful unto death, he is set
down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Let the tempted look to Jesus, and since the cross
of trial is appointed by God, firmly, though
in humility, assume, and resolutely bear it, re-
membering that Jesus thus sustained it, who
was tempted in all points as we are, yet without
Coinciding more or less nearly with one or an-
other of these classes of endurance which we have
now glanced at, are the various crosses which
individuals are called to bear. Generally, too,
there is to each one some peculiar cross, which
he may recognize as being the evil he most
BEARING THE CROSS. 155
desires to have removed, or the want which he
most wishes to have gratified. And the thought
may sufficiently indicate how such trials are to
be borne, that the very earnestness of his wish
may serve to show him what that is, the endurance
of which is at the time the very cross that
Providence imposes on him ; patience under it
the very duty which at that moment his God
requires. Is labor hard to you ? Then that labor
is your cross, by meekly bearing which you can
follow your Saviour. Do you feel that you could
with pleasure endure labor, but pine at the con-
finement of your sick-room, which forbids you to
engage in it ? Be comforted, then, by the feeling,
that the service of God is as possible to you now
as it was in the hours of health. Your peculiar
cross is now sickness ; — your peculiar duty, to
bear it resignedly. When recovery comes, be
thankful, but expect not that in the removal of
one cross your service is ended. Still there will
be something to endure ; and you, if you are a
faithful Christian, would not have it otherwise, —
would not be found unmarked with that sacred
sign, which the Redeemer bore, and which his
true followers must bear.
There is one cross which it is ours to bear,
that, unlike those which have been named, was
156 the christian's walk.
not endured by Christ. It is sin. Yes ; we must
bear what our Saviour never bore, the conscious-
ness of neglected opportunities, duties unper-
formed, and transgressions committed. We must
endure the trial of those temptations which derive
increase of strength from our own previous crimi-
nal yielding to them ; ours must be the shame and
the agony of regret. Far better any other suffer-
ing than this ; yet this, too, is a cross which we
have a duty to perform in enduring. If we are
guilty in the sight of God, the consciousness of
that guilt is, with unquestionable justice, made a
part of the burden we are to sustain ; and in sus-
taining it is exercise for humility of spirit, for
penitence which looks upon the past, and for holy
determination which contemplates the future.
We have to strengthen us the assurance that God
is merciful, — yet more, that God is our Father.
But for this, the cross of sin would be intolerable.
Let us not shrink, then, from the contemplation of
past errors. It is a part of the duty we owe to Him
who in all but his sinlessness was our brother ; it
is a cross, though not like his, which, if endured
aright, may be the means of making us resemble
him more perfectly, by the power of true repent-
ance to win back the forfeited brightness of in-
INSTRUMENTAL AND ACTIVE DUTIES.
The duties of the communicant, it is sufficient-
ly obvious, are essentially the same which are in-
cumbent upon all. Our obligations to God and to
our fellow-men do not depend on our acknowl-
edging their existence. The law of Christ is the
rule of life prescribed for us by Divine authority,
and our neglect of one among its precepts surely
does not excuse us from obedience to the others.
Still it is true, that every right action we
perform gives a pledge of consistent action in
future ; and that a falling into sin involves more
of disgrace, and more of moral injury to ourselves
and others, the higher our characters have previous-
ly stood. To ourselves, there is danger that the
greatness of the fall may produce discouragement,
instead of salutary penitence ; and those who be-
hold are liable to be hardened in sin, and tempted
to disbelieve and scorn the power of virtue and
158 the christian's walk.
religion. The offences of professed disciples
" give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to
blaspheme." The most mournful wounds which
religion has received have been " in the house of
The believer, then, who in a sincere and humble
spirit has joined the Church of Christ, cannot be
indifferent to the question, What course of life
should I pursue, that it may be consistent with
the profession that I have made ? What duties
are yet before me, and how am I to discharge
The duties of the Christian's life may be classi-
fied under the divisions of instrumental, passive,
and active. Of these, the second class has al-
ready received our notice, in the preceding sec-
tion. The instrumental and the active duties re-
main for us to consider.
Under the former may be named the reading
of the Scriptures, self-examination, and prayer,
together with the observance of the Lord's day
and its ordinances. These are means for im-
provement in actual virtue ; they are instruments
for cultivating within us the love of God and
Let not any one fancy that the advancement he
has already made justifies him in neglecting the
INSTRUMENTAL DUTIES. 159
duties of personal religion. Let not any one
fancy that a profession once made of faith in
Christ is enough to make him and keep him a re-
ligious man. Religion is not a thing once to be
experienced and afterwards to be left to itself.
The mind and heart require nourishment, as
much as the body. As the human frame without
food would languish and die, so without inward,
spiritual food, the soul languishes, the spiritual
powers are weakened, the religious character
And what is this food of the soul ? How is
the immortal spirit to be sustained ? Prayer, read-
ing, reflection, self-examination, the services of
God's house, and active virtue, — these are the
means of sustaining that religious character which
is the soul's life. And though active virtue be of
the list, let it not be thought that the others can
safely be relinquished. Nor are prayer and re-
flection to be dreaded or shunned. To the pious
mind, they are among the highest pleasures.
Sometimes, indeed, it is painful to reflect, — it is
painful even to pray, — when reflection finds no
theme but the remembrance of lost opportunities
and committed faults, and when prayer is the
pleading of a spirit that is struggling to be humble,
but has not yet fully attained the humility which
160 THE CHRISTIAN'S WALK.
makes prayer delightful. But when sin and pride
are yielding, — when we can trace in our own
characters something of improvement, — when
we can indulge a hope that we are somewhat
nearer heaven than before, and when, at the same
time, we have so far conquered the temptation to
vanity and self-admiration, as to recognize God,
and not ourselves, as the author of this advance-
ment, — then, indeed, reflection is pleasure ; and
prayer is the spontaneous and delighted pouring
forth of gratitude to Him whose presence we feel
to be around us, and whose grace we feel to be in
But it is not only at such times that the Chris-
tian is to pray, or read, or meditate. It is a fatal
mistake of some, to think they need only attend
to these duties when their inclination prompts.
They say, that sometimes, when their devotional
feelings are excited, they do pray, — sometimes,
when so disposed, they do read the Scriptures.
This is leaving their religion to be the result of
accident. What is postponed now for want of
suitable feeling, now again for want of time, may
soon be entirely neglected. Whatever is worth
doing at all is worth doing regularly, at stated in-
tervals. And at these intervals, if the mind is
not in a right train for the service, it is to be
INSTRUMENTAL DUTIES. 161
brought into a right train. Reflection can be
called up, to remind us how great is the Being in
whose presence we stand, our God, the Lord of
heaven and earth, the Eternal, Invisible, Unsearch-
able God, whom no mortal eye can see, and who
yet is around us constantly, who sees all our ac-
tions, hears every word, and traces every thought,
though it be almost hidden from ourselves. Thus
can the mind be suitably composed for the high
intercourse of prayer; and if devotion does not
ascend on her boldest wing, at least the exercise
will be an offering of such as we have to offer,
and our spirits will be, by its influence, in some
degree purified and elevated. Let prayer, then,
and reading, reflection and self-examination, be
made regular duties.
The hours of morning and of evening are sug-
gested by nature, by Scripture, and by the common
consent of mankind, as the suitable seasons for
regular devotion. And what is the most appro-
priate period for self-examination ? This is, in-
deed, like prayer, a duty for all times and places.
The individual must ever have a watch over him-
self, and must ever be ready, even though amidst
a crowd, to seek, in silent ejaculation, aid from
heaven. But as for prayer, so also for self-ex-
amination, the allotment of some definite period
162 the christian's walk.
of time is the best way to insure the regular per-
formance of the duty. The calm leisure of the
Sabbath day, the recurrence of the ordinance
commemorative of our Saviour, and whatever
periods of the year are hallowed to our recollec-
tion by events of peculiar importance, — these may
well be employed for the purpose of a self-com-
munion, in which conscience shall penetrate the
recesses of the soul, and dislodge thence every
bad passion, every unholy thought, every guest
unworthy to endure the presence of that God to
whom we have consecrated the temple of the
Among the means which we may use for our
own improvement and the expression of reverence
to God, are some which are also to be classed
among our duties to others. Such are family
prayer, public worship, and the use of the ordi-
nances of religion.
Family prayer, where properly conducted, is
the blessing of God on the domestic circle. We
will not say merely that it calls down a blessing,
though this we believe ; but it is in itself a blessing.
It introduces, more than can in any other way be
done, the spirit of religion into the circle of par-
ents and children, brothers and sisters. It binds
all together with the golden chain of love to one
INSTRUMENTAL DUTIES. 163
another, and to the Father and to the Saviour of
all. To the younger portion of the family its
influence may be most valuable. The example
of the parent is set before them as a motive to
personal religion ; and no motive can be more
powerful. Is it objected, that few are competent
to conduct the exercise in an appropriate manner ?
We may reply, that excellent manuals of devotion
are accessible to all ; and that it is not in the
number of words that the influence of family
prayer consists, but in the act of the domestic cir-
cle uniting each day to acknowledge the goodness
and to seek the blessing of God. Of the direct
answer that is granted to such prayers, there
seems no further reason to doubt, than of the an-
swer to public or to individual supplications. We
know that the Scriptures authorize and inculcate
prayer ; that the patriarchs worshipped in the pres-
ence of their families, and the Saviour among his
disciples. We doubt not that our devotions are
known to the Omniscient ; nor that the All-
merciful and All-powerful is equally willing and
able to bestow the blessings that are suitably im-
Next to family worship, attendance on the ser-
vices of the sanctuaiy presents itself for our re-
flection. This, like the discharge of the other in-
164 the christian's walk.
strumental duties of religion, should be regular.
We have already laid down the principle, that
whatever object is to be accomplished can be
better effected by systematic efforts, than by
regarding merely the promptings of occasional
inclination. And let us remember, that our
Saviour enforced the precept, " Take heed how
ye hear." Let us remember that he com-
pared the preaching of the Gospel to the scatter-
ing of seed, which fell in vain, unless it fell
on good ground ; and that even of those who
attended on his preaching, the greater number,
from want of due preparation on their own part,
derived no advantage from their inestimable
privilege. Hence may we learn to bring to the
house of prayer the hearing ear, the understand-
ing heart, and the docile and obedient spirit.
With respect to the employment of those hours
of the Lord's day which are not spent in public
worship, we may observe, in general terms, that
he who wishes to derive real improvement from
the thoughts presented to him in church will not
be disposed to engage immediately after in any
thing, either of business or of pleasure, which
would banish every serious thought from his mind.
44 The Sabbath was made for man " ; but much of
its usefulness to man depends upon his holding it
INSTRUMENTAL DUTIES. 165
sacred, — sacred from the common cares of life,
and from some of its ordinary enjoyments. En-
joyments the day may and ought to have. It
should be, it is meant to be, the happiest day of
all the seven. But its pleasures should be of that
quiet, simple, thoughtful character, that may be
consistent with the serious duties that engage a
portion of its hours. And in regard even to oc-
cupations which may appear in themselves inno-
cent, the Christian, if he has the spirit of his
Master and of Paul, will be disposed rather to
deny himself than to do " any thing whereby a
brother may stumble, or be led into sin, or be
made weak." Rom. xiv. 21.
Thus have we reviewed the instrumental duties
of religion, with the exception of the Lord's
Supper itself. In this the disciple will engage in
deference to the command of his Saviour, and not
in deference to that alone. He will strive to culti-
vate within himself that spirit of love to his
Master, which will render participation in the me-
morial of his Master's death, not merely a duty,
but a pleasure. He will regard the communion
as a proper occasion for self-inspection, and for a
renewed examination of the perfect character of
his Saviour. Prayer and praise are sacred to our
God ; the communion is sacred to Jesus Christ,
166 the christian's walk.
not as an act of worship, but of friendly, brother-
But the Supper of the Lord, like public, social,
and private prayer, though valuable in itself, will
be by such a person valued most as instrumental
to something beyond. He will remember the
solemn meaning of those words, " Let eveiy one
that nameth the name of Christ depart from in-
iquity." (2 Tim. ii. 19.) He will feel that the
discharge of duty to man is the mode of service
most acceptable to that God who declared of old,
" I will have mercy, and not sacrifice."
" Ye," said our Saviour to his disciples, " ye
are the salt of the earth " ; " ye are the light of
the world." These are lofty titles ; but they
were applied by our holy Master to the band of
his followers, and to the band of his followers they
still belong. The Christian Church is now, as of
old, the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
The members, then, of the Christian Church should
remember the influence they exert, and their re-
sponsibleness for its exercise. If the salt have
lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned ?
If the light of the world become darkness, how
great is that darkness !
Leaving the instrumental, we now approach the
active duties of the Christian, — those which he
ACTIVE DUTIES. 167
is called upon to discharge toward his fellow-men.
First among them we may with propriety notice
what is due to his associates in the Church.
Communicants at present form among us a dis-
tinct body ; and a distinct body they must form,
until either the ordinance shall cease to be ob-
served, — which we trust may never be, — or un-
til all shall unite in it. However we may regret
the distinction between church and congregation,
we must act according to the existing state of
things. Perceiving, then, that some of each re-
ligious society are peculiarly united together, if
by no other tie, at least by meeting each other at
the communion, we must consider what duties
these owe to one another.
This point would be very differently settled in
different assemblies of Christians. Among some,
were we to propose this question, we should be
told that each member of the Church owes it to
his brethren to exercise a strict, though affection-
ate, watch over their conduct, freely though kindly
to admonish them of any perceived error, and, if
admonition should fail, to act in concert with the
Church at large as a judicial tribunal for their ex-
amination and discipline. It must be confessed
that this view of a church, as a body which is to
exercise a very constant and watchful discipline
168 the christian's walk.
over its members, is in accordance with the prac-
tice of the early Christians, and claims to be au-
thorized by the precepts of our Saviour and the
Apostles. But, on the other hand, it is to be re-
membered that the early Christians, living under
a despotic and heathen government, had much
more occasion for a tribunal within their own
body, to compose their differences and pass cen-
sure on their faults, than exists at the present day.
It is to be remembered that the experience of
ages since that time has shown the great danger
that attends the placing of temporal power in the
hands of spiritual leaders. It is also worthy of
remark, that our Saviour, if he laid down some
principles of what may be called church disci-
pline, pointed out in those principles a course of
advice and remonstrance, not of coercion (Matt,
xviii. 15, 17); and that the only instance in which
St. Paul is recorded to have authorized even the
suspension of a member from communion, was an
instance of such gross immorality as not the most
lenient church at the present day would tolerate.
(1 Cor. v. ; 2 Cor. ii.) Then, too, it may be urged
with force, that a system of continual supervision
of each other's conduct would be apt to do more
harm, by the introduction of an inquisitive, inter-
meddling and suspicious spirit, than it could ever
ACTIVE DUTIES. 169
do good by the purifying effect of its discipline ;
that thus heart-burnings and jealousies would take
the place of that brotherly love which ought to be
the bond of Christian union ; that in a community
as numerous as Christian churches frequently are,
there would often be persons who would combine
a zeal for discipline with a narrowness of mind
which would be unable to distinguish between
matters of consequence and trifles, between forms
and substance. Among the early Christians it
was better to have points of difference concerning
right subjected to the kind arbitration of their
brethren, than decided by heathen judges. In the
Dark Ages, when the right of the strongest often
took the place of law and order, the spiritual
weapons of suspension and excommunication, if
they were often abused to wrong purposes, were
perhaps still oftener valuable for right. But in
our Christian and civilized age, it is better to leave
questions that admit of such adjudication to be set-
tled by the law of the land, to exercise church disci-
pline only in extreme cases, for purging the Church
from members whose lives would disgrace it, and to
substitute in its stead a fraternal feeling among the
members of the same communion, and an inter-
course in which harmony shall be secured by mutu-
al forbearance, and respect for the liberty of all.
170 THE CHRISTIAN'S WALK.
It by no means follows, however, that those
who meet at the same table to commemorate the
death of their Lord, may not feel and encourage
an interest in each other's welfare, or even that
such an interest may not extend to the spiritual as
well as temporal good of their fellow-members.
Such an interest ought to exist. They who have
fixed their hearts on the same object, they who
are travelling the same road, should feel that they
are indeed companions. It may often be in their
power to facilitate each other's progress ; to do so,
should not be less a pleasure than a duty. Nor,
while we find so many of the worthiest among us,
who from various reasons decline attendance at
the Communion, should we fail on this account to
extend to them our fraternal sympathy and aid.
The worshippers in the same house of prayer are
bound together by a near and sacred relation. A
relation less near, but not less sacred, connects to-
gether all the followers of the Saviour. Wherever
we find a Christian, there should our hearts recog-
nize a brother. It is said, that of old, when the
professors of Christianity, few in number, were
surrounded by a hostile world, the heathen, bitterly
as they opposed them, could not avoid sometimes
saying, " Behold, how these Christians love one
another." Happy will be the Christian Church,
ACTIVE DUTIES. 171
if, at the present day, the same can be said ; —
and happy that portion of it, however small, in
which unity of spirit, mutual respect, and brother-
ly kindness prevail.
What is the duty of the communicant toward
the world at large ? It differs in naught from the
duty of any other member of society. It may
naturally be expected, however, that the feelings
which have led the disciple to a profession of re-
ligion will accompany him still, and shed the
light of religious feeling and religious motive over
every field of human obligation. In the constitu-
tion of society every man bears his part, but it
often is the case that men are unacquainted with
the true nature of . the ties which bind them to
each other. Prompted only by private interest or
feeling, they discharge their part for the general
good, and see not, all the time, that wisdom which
has arranged the motives and course of their
action. Each is like some inanimate portion of
a machine, which yields blindly to the impulse of
the moving power, unconscious of the purposes
for which it is employed. Thus it is with men in
every condition of life ; alike with the tiller of
the ground and with the conqueror ; both are
instruments in the hands of Providence, and
Providence employs the one to aid in producing
172 the christian's walk.
sustenance for mankind, and the other to execute
judgment on the guilty, and salutary discipline on
the erring among nations ; but each, meanwhile,
sees only himself and the circle of private mo-
tives by which he is influenced. Religion com-
municates to man a knowledge of his true posi-
tion. It is then as if the machine could become
conscious of the results it is destined to effect, and
of their importance. The individual now sees the
bearing of his own conduct on the happiness of
those around him, and perceives himself to be a
fellow-worker with God for the benefit of society.
This idea it is which distinguishes the duty and
the conduct of the religious man. His eye is
opened to his own true position. He sees that,
while he has thought of nothing but the acquisition
of property, God has made use of the industry
he has thus developed for the good of society.
He sees that, while he has thought only of gratify-
ing his own taste, he has, without intending it,
gratified also that of others. He enters then
cheerfully into the plans of infinite benevolence,
as he begins to understand them. His conduct
perhaps is the same, but its motives are different.
He labors now, not only for himself, but in part for
the sake of others, and in part from a feeling in
harmony with the plans of his Creator. He sees
ACTIVE DUTIES. 173
God in all, and all in God. Has he children ?
He not only provides for them from the instinctive
principle which sways the animal, he not only
cherishes them for his own gratification, — though
this instinctive principle, and this gratification in
the growth and progress of his children, are
strengthened, not weakened, by the introduction
of higher motives, — but he contemplates God as
the wise author and disposer of the parental re-
lation, — he sees himself intrusted with these ob-
jects from a higher power, and on this view of
duty does he conduct himself towards them. And
so of every relation he sustains. This it is, as
the Apostle commands, to " do all to the glory of
God " ; — to feel, in whatever we have to do, the
relation which it bears to God, and to our duty as
his subjects. The man who realizes the feelings
we have endeavoured to describe and convey, views
the world from an entirely different and more ele-
vated point than the community at large. Of the
thousands around him, each sees only his own lim-
ited part ; but this man, while he sees his own part,
sends a glance abroad over the whole, views it in
its relations to God, and himself cooperates with
God's designs concerning it to the best of his
ability. Thus it is that the love of God leads to
the love of man ; that piety introduces true philan-
M ■ — — a
174 the christian's walk.
thropy ; because, as we come nearer to our
Heavenly Father, understand his character and
will better, and love him more, we feel more as
he feels, in reference to our fellow-men.
The present is peculiarly an age of philanthrop-
ic exertion. Plans of benevolence of the widest ex-
tent, and adapted to all the varied forms of human
suffering, are offered to the attention of the com-
munity. To their claims the consistent Christian
cannot be indifferent. His first attention is due to
those immediately around him ; the duties of the
son or brother, husband or father, must first be
discharged; then follow those of the friend, the
neighbour, and the citizen. It must be his to re-
lieve distress, to encourage virtuous conduct, to
warn against vice, among those to whom his direct
influence extends. But beyond this sphere he has
duties. The love taught him by his Saviour is
not less comprehensive than the world. Among
the many plans for the relief of suffering, the re-
straint of wrong, the advancement of knowledge,
civilization, and Christianity, he is to choose, calm-
ly and justly, such as commend themselves to his
approval, and come within his power of efficient
cooperation. It cannot be his to have a part in
all the good that is done among mankind. It may
be best that he should concentrate his efforts on
ACTIVE DUTIES. 175
some one object in the wide field of Christian
beneficence. If so, still let him be just to others.
Their efforts, too, must be bounded, from the very-
nature of things. It is neither desirable nor possi-
ble that all other objects should be forsaken for
that which has engaged his attention. Never let
him condemn that which he has not examined ;
never let him judge the motives and the consciences
of others. In his own chosen sphere let him
labor, whether success be sent to encourage, or
disappointment to prove him. It is not the amount
of what he shall accomplish, but the sincere fidel-
ity with which he labors, that shall gain him the
approval of conscience and of God. As to the
approbation of men, let him not seek for it, ex-
cept in strict subordination to those higher aims.
With humility, but with steadfastness, let him
follow in the path which Jesus trod, and though it
should conduct him to the cross, beyond the cross
is the heavenly crown.
MEDITATIONS IN YERSE.
180 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
The princes' hate, the soldiers' scorn. —
Are there worse ills than these to share ?
Yes ! it is worse to die abhorred
By those whom thou hast lived to save,
To hear thine Israel doom her Lord,
Her benefactor, to the grave.
Yet, Saviour, there were thoughts that came,
Like angel ministrants, to cheer
Thy spirit through that pain and shame ;
And one among them, bright and dear ; —
That coming ages should repay,
By love, the scorn of that sad hour ;
For visioncd to thy spirit lay
Thy rising kingdom's future power.
And now is that fruition thine
Whose hope could then thy soul sustain ;
And thou, enthroned in bliss divine,
Art spreading still thy glorious reign.
Lo, heathen altars crumbling fall !
Lo, ocean's isles thy voice obey !
And soon the light that beams for all,
O'er the wide earth shall pour its ray.
And we, — shall not our spirits bend
To him who in that strife o'ercame ?
Our praises for that King ascend,
Who comes in God his Father's name 1
BEHOLD THE MAN ! 181
Yes, by that patient, bleeding brow,
By all thy wrongs, by all thy love !
Saviour ! before thee here we bow,
Thy service be our bliss above !
JESUS BEFORE PILATE.
" Aet thou a king 1 " 0, not in vain
Those words, though meant in scorn ;
For ne'er was captive monarch's chain
With more of grandeur worn.
" Thou sayest " ; — the assent was given,
With calmness, not with pride ;
Nor he, though loved and crowned of heaven,
That earthly power defied.
" My kingdom is not of this earth,
Else had my servants fought ;
But consecrated from my hirth,
For truth I 've lived and taught ;
" And hearts to whom the truth is dear
Are subjects of my throne.
My law they love, my voice they hear,
My gentle kingdom own."
" What, then, is truth ? " the Roman cried,
Yet careless turned away,
JESUS BEFORE PILATE. 183
Self-fated, darkling to abide,
So near the perfect day.
King of truth ! we bless thy sway,
Thy law would learn and love.
On earth conduct us in thy way,
And own us thine above !
THE CROWN OF THORNS.
A crown for the destined King !
The weight of gold by David borne,
From conquered Ammon torn ! *
To David's heir the regal circle bring,
And let the ruby's rays
Join with the sapphire's blaze
To make for Judah's Lord an offering.
A crown for the gentle Friend,
Whose heart with human love o'erflows,
Who feels for human woes !
The rose and myrtle with the olive blend,
And let the mingled wreath
Each softest odor breathe,
And music's liquid melody attend.
A crown for the Lofty One !
For him who reigns in heavenly might,
Next to the Infinite !
* "And he took their king's crown from off his head, (the weight
whereof was a talent of gold, with the precious stones,) and it was set
on David's head." 2 Sam. xii. 30.
THE CROWN OF THORNS. 185
But what were worthy of God's holy Son,
Unless night's diadem,
With every starry gem,
By angel hands were laid before his throne ?
A crown of the piercing thorn
Was woven for that sacred brow,
And lo ! the soldiers bow,
And hail the meek Redeemer king, in scorn !
Christian ! there fix thy gaze !
Nor gems nor starry rays
Equal the glories which that crown adorn.
«MY GOD! MY GOD! WHY HAST THOU
Hast thou forsaken me ?
Father and God ! to thee
Humbly I cry.
Free from temptation's thrall,
Loving and blessing all,
Yet here I die.
Hast thou not said of old,
Thou wouldst my throne uphold
Against all fear ?
Hast thou not made, through me,
Blind eyes the light to see,
Deaf ears to hear ?
Has not my fervent prayer
Risen through midnight's air
On the lone hill,
While, like the stars above,
Thine answering thoughts of love
Burned calm and still ?
WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME ? 187
Darkness around me lies !
Scarce can my spirit rise
O'er the sharp pain.
Thoughts of a world redeemed,
How brightly once ye beamed !
Beam yet again !
God ! thou hast given me power
To brave this fearful hour ;
Leave me not now !
Torn limbs and burning thirst !
Malice has done its worst !
Be near me thou !
The nails are loosened from the cross,
And now the sacred form,
"With bending head, like flower that bows
Before the northern storm,
Received by friendly arms, is laid
On yonder grassy mound,
While silently, in reverent grief,
The mourners gather round.
And Roman proud and Pharisee
At distance gaze with awe,
For sternest breasts confess at times
Our nature's holy law.
They thought despair and baffled guilt
Above that form would rave,
And stern-browed partisans would bear
Their leader to his grave.
But lo! a woe-struck woman kneels
To kiss that chock of clay ;
No tear her agony reveals, —
It may not so find way.
THE MOURNERS. 189
Mary ! mother of the Lord !
Are these cold limbs the same
With the bright infant's form, that erst
By thee to being came ?
Approach, maid of Magdala,
Once rescued by his grace,
And thou who at his sacred feet
Hast held a happy place ;
And thou, the true disciple, come !
Where pierced that Eoman spear
The heart is still, that beat for all,
And thee, of all most dear.
Thou, who by night hast trembling sought
To hear his hallowed word,
Fear'st not, new-born, in this sad hour,
To own him for thy Lord.
And Joseph with thee ministers,
To whom dark Pilate gave, —
While conscience blanched his war-stained cheek,
The body for the grave.
Weep ! weep ! yet upward let the gaze
Of faith reviving turn ;
The heavens that darkened o'er his cross
With sunset's glory burn !
Trust, mourners, trust ! Still reigns on high
The God who loves the just ;
He can bid life and glory bloom
From hopes now laid in dust.
MARY AND JOHN, BEFORE THE
My mother ! in the awful hour
When darkness o'er us lay,
While, fainting by the Blest One's cross,
My arm became thy stay,
Did not his gentle voice then seal
The bond for thee and me,
And give me for the coming time
To be a son to thee 1
privilege of all most high 1
boon of all most dear !
Still, still, in sweet, sad memory
That voice I seem to hear.
Then come, my mother ! share the cot
Thy Jesus oft hath blest,
Far hence, where blue Gennesareth
Expands his peaceful breast.
The boat lies idle on the strand,
The net hangs by the wall ;
MARY AND JOHN.
In happier hour, when hope was high,
For him I left them all.
Now, for his sake and thine, I turn
Back to that quiet sea.
Farewell, ye proud and guilty towers !
My mother ! come with me !
There oft, when eve's advancing shades
O'er hill and lake are thrown,
"Will we recall the varied past,
And weep for hopes now gone.
Then will we waken slumbering faith,
And lift our brightening eyes
To Him, who e'en from this deep gloom
Can bid the light arise.
Yes, we will trust ! My thought retains
Words of mysterious power
The Loved One spoke, as o'er his soul
Darkened the destined hour.
That he should rise again ! joy !
But ah ! for hope too dear !
Some mystic meaning sure was there,
That time shall render clear.
Perchance another, in his might,
With burning words shall come,
And lead repentant Israel forth
To mourn above his tomb.
Perchance his rising will be there
Where we with him shall rise,
To meet the Father's smile of love,
In yonder holy skies !
192 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
But now, the night in watching spent,
How glorious breaks the day !
The sisters hasten to the tomb,
The last sad rites to pay ;
And lo ! our brethren's scattered band
Are gathering mournfully, —
All here, except that sacred form
We never more may see !
ZEAL AND LOVE.
On, on, Crusaders, once again,
To Salem's trembling towers !
The Moslem ranks resist in vain
Your consecrated powers.
Spare not the unbelieving horde ;
On, for the cause divine !
And soon the banner of the Lord
On Zion's height shall shine !
Cease your wild shouts ! Once on this hallowed air
Rose from the cross the dying Saviour's prayer,
" Father, forgive ! "
On patriots, in your country's might !
Her injured honor calls !
Before her vindicated right
The insulting foeman falls.
Taste the stern joy of battle's hour,
And let your standard wave
Above your country's conquering power,
Or shroud her slaughtered brave !
But ah ! do deeds of blood his impress bear
"Who uttered once, for Judah's race, the prayer,
" Father, forgive " ?
194 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
The Church ! By open foes beset
And treachery's hidden wile,
She bids her children trample yet
On error's serpent guile.
The anathema has slept too long ;
Now let its thunders burst
On those who lead the unwary throng
To heresy accurst !
Yet pause ; no sound on Calvary's mournful air
Kose to the throne of God, save that meek prayer,
" Father, forgive ! "
Forward, ye champions of the age !
Plead for God's holy truth,
"With all the strength of manhood sage,
The energy of youth !
To that abyss whence first they came
Drive back the brood of night !
With heart of steel, with tongue of flame,
Do battle for the right !
Yet, ere ye strive, list to your Master's prayer,
Breathed on the cross for those who placed him there,
" Father, forgive ! "
n ^ -n
THE PEXITENT THIEF.
Can late repentance then repair
The ruin of a life of crime 1 —
Eternal justice grant the prayer
Breathed at the awful goal of time
Can habit's chains at once be burst, —
The guilt-stained soul at once be pure, —
Sin from her old dominion thrust,
And peace and pardon rendered sure 1
miracle of sovereign grace !
Yet who that grace shall dare reprove, —
Question, God, thy righteous ways,
Thy boundless power, thy saving love 1
And humble faith has strength untold ;
And penitence, transforming might,
To turn sin's dross to heaven's pure gold,
And the soul's darkness into light.
That faith, in suffering and in scorn,
The guiltless Son of God could own,
196 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
And reverence, of repentance born,
Viewed in the cross Messiah's throne.
The Saviour blest that dying prayer,
And hope may rise, though near the tomb.
One pardon found, lest man despair ;
One only, lest he should presume !
PRAYING IN THE NAME OF CHRIST.
" Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it
you." — John xvi. 23.
By the Saviour's prayer to thee
Poured upon the fatal tree,
Lord ! thy help we crave !
Save from passion's tyrant force, —
From the stings of dire remorse !
God and Father, save !
Save from evil habit's power !
God ! be thou our strength and tower,
Thou our sun and shield !
May our souls to thee aspire,
And their unseen foes retire
From the conquered field !
Save us in the evil days
When our earthly strength decays,
And the couch is spread ;
Anxious friends, with footstep light,
Watching through the mournful night
Round our dying bed.
198 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
Thou who wast to Jesus nigh,
God and Father ! hear our cry !
In his name 't is poured.
He hath led us to thy throne ;
Hear us through thy blessed Son,
Our ascended Lord !
Come to the sacred feast !
Come for the Saviour's sake !
"With reverent joy let every guest
The hallowed rite partake.
Think not 't is earthly bread ;
Think not 'tis common wine.
Of the torn frame, the blood once shed,
Behold the mystic sign !
Here let the young draw nigh,
And give life's golden hours
To Him who bids eternity
Expand its roseate bowers.
And here let man's firm tread
And woman's step of grace
Approach the feast of Jesus, spread
Within the sacred place.
Here let the aged come,
Who long has served his God ;
200 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
Who, calmly hopeful, toward the tomb
Treads as his Saviour trod.
Blest Jesus ! be thou near !
Thy spirit o'er us reign !
The perfect love that casts out fear
In every soul remain !
Father and God ! we own
Thy presence round us now.
May lives of holiness make known
That thou hast blest our vow !
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.
We gather to the sacred board,
Perchance a scanty band ;
But with us in sublime accord
What mighty armies stand !
In creed and rite howe'er apart,
One Saviour still we own,
And pour the worship of the heart
Before one Father's throne.
A thousand spires o'er hill and vale
Point to the same blue heaven;
A thousand voices tell the tale
Of grace through Jesus given.
High choirs, in Europe's ancient fanes,
Praise him, for man who died;
And o'er our boundless Western plains
His name is glorified.
Around his tomb, on Salem's height,
Greek and Armenian bend ;
202 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
And through far Laplands' months of night
The peasant's hymns ascend.
Are we not brethren 1 Saviour dear !
Then may we walk in love,
Joint subjects of thy kingdom here,
Joint heirs of bliss above !
Author of every good,
Giving thy creatures food,
Thou bidd'st the ocean's flood
To rise and fall !
'T is thy all-ruling might
Marshals the host of night ;
Thy goodness infinite
Beams over all.
Day speaketh unto day,
From morning's earliest ray
Till evening fades away,
O God ! of thee.
And when the night has spread
Her mantle overhead,
Then through the darkness dread
Thine eye can see !
Wherever man is found,
Thy love that knows no bound
Still doth his path surround,
Father divine !
204 MEDITATIONS IN VERSE.
Thou giv'st the bright spring hours,
Thou, summer's leafy bowers 5
Fruits which the autumn showers,
All, all are thine !
But of thy varied store
None wins our praises more
Than the immortal lore
Jesus hath given.
All the bright gifts of earth
Cannot approach the worth
Of the celestial birth,
Heirship of heaven !
Thou from whom Jesus came !
Keep us from sin and shame !
Kindle a holy flame
Within each breast !
Beneath thy loving eyes
Still may our souls arise,
Till in thy own pure skies
With thee they rest !
■;:ji..'; i ■'■ ',,